Engineers have developed a robot that can detect whether people are wearing masks to prevent COVID-19. If not, they can be politely reminded to wear masks.

This function is an upgrade to Pepper, which is a 120 cm (47 inches) tall robot with human characteristics. It has been put into use in some countries/regions. Visitors are welcome to visit shops, exhibition halls and other public places.

Pepper’s camera scans the faces of people approaching it, and if it finds that the lower part of the face is not covered, it will say a sentence: “You must always wear a mask.”

If the visitor is seen wearing a mask, the robot will continue to say: “Thank you for putting on the mask.”

Jonathan Boiria, head of sales in Europe for SoftBank Robotics, the company behind Pepper, said that the purpose of this is not to let the robotic policeman wear a mask, but to provide a friendly reminder.

“The store must assign a lot of people at the entrance to ensure respect for wearing masks, which is sometimes troublesome,” Boiria told Reuters in Paris.

“The robot allows you to free up some people so they can focus on normal tasks.”

“We are all human beings. Sometimes I take off my mask when I get out of the car, but forget to put on my mask when I go to the office. The robot will remind you. We may all make a mistake or forget.”

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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