Social Care Robot
Concerns raised as the £17K robot bought by Southend Council is being used less often.
07:40 01 February 2020
Pepper, a child-sized robot was bought by Southend Council to help with social care. It stands 120cm, speaks 12 languages, and designed to communicate with patients and understand their emotions.
The £17,000 robot took up residence at the Civic Centre in 2017 and in that year, it had just 17 trips out into the community. The number of trips increased to 62 the following year. However, Pepper’s outings were down to just 19 in the year to date. Despite the lower number of outings, the public was assured that the robot is not out of work.
Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: “Pepper is a very valued member of the council and since 2017 has been actively involved in the development of some exciting new projects incorporating Pepper’s expertise in robotics and AI work.
“This includes running dementia groups for the elderly, helping children with learning difficulties, running inter-generational projects, and being used to inspire schoolchildren to consider a career in robotics and this work continues.
“The council has been proud to lead this advance in robotics and be the first local authority to trial this technology. Whilst the number of ‘public appearances’ have reduced, this doesn’t mean Pepper is being used less. Pepper and the robotics team are involved in a number of innovative and exciting projects within the community that seek to improve lives for local people. We will shortly be revealing further details about this work.”