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'Pepper' robot to lead taxi tours in Kobe

"Tour conductor" Pepper is seen here guiding guests inside a taxi in Kobe's Chuo Ward on March 8, 2017. (Mainichi)
The retro London taxi in which Pepper will conduct tours is pictured in Kobe's Chuo Ward on March 8, 2017. (Mainichi)

KOBE -- Tourists in this city will soon be able to enjoy taxi tours conducted by the humanoid robot "Pepper" in both English and Japanese.

    Kinki Taxi Corp., a tourism-centered taxi company located in Kobe's Nagata Ward, will offer tours conducted by the robot in their retro London taxis starting from March 11. "We will use March as a testing period, and if the service is well received, we would like to continue it from April," company president Kiyoto Morisaki, 64, commented.

    The application allowing Pepper to act as a tour guide was developed by IT company Kobe Digital Labo Inc., located in Kobe's Chuo Ward. The data about each tourist spot is uploaded onto a server. The taxi driver can select what information Pepper downloads for the different locations via a tablet. Pepper can then use the data to explain the location both verbally and with its built-in video screen.

    The four-person taxis can be chartered for a basic fee of 12,330 yen for the tour lasting one hour and 30 minutes. Pepper's taxi has been christened "Taxi No. 0" and leaves from the taxi stand at the south exit of JR Sannomiya Station, visiting Kamomeria at Nakatottei wharf at Kobe's port as well as Sannomiya and Motomachi's famous sweets shops. The costs of food and drink are not included in the trip. For inquiries about the tour, contact Kinki Taxi at 078-691-0101.

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