Science & Technology

Pepper the robot offers friendly face tackling crimes against children

Barcelona, Spain, Mar 2 (EFE-EPA).- The semi-humanoid robot Pepper is being used by police in the United Arab Emirates to uncover crimes against children such as abuse and exploitation, a sensitive area where a friendly android face could prove more approachable and less traumatic for those involved.

The project from the multinational IT company Inetum uses Pepper’s artificial intelligence-driven ability to read emotions and understand human behavior to interact with the children and assess their responses to questioning when faced with a potentially distressing or even life threatening situation.

“It is one of our most beautiful and resilient projects,” head of innovation at Inetum Spain, Jesus Otero, told Efe at the Mobile World Congress taking place in Barcelona.

“The presence of the robot helps the children to open up and be more expressive in therapy despite the fear they are experiencing,” Otero said.

“It is interesting how this solution, that looks like a toy, actually has some very powerful user cases.”

The robot can either accompany a psychologist during individual therapy or act as an avatar for the children, who often feel more comfortable talking about their experience with the robot and may be more forthcoming about the details of a particular case.

“The robot can recognize faces and interact with people in human language,” Otero said.

Inetum, which is present in 26 countries and employs over 27,000 people, aims to deploy the robot to more police stations to help resolve crimes that involve children.

Pepper the robot was developed by Japanese firm Softbank Production and was first unveiled back in 2014.

While child abuse rates in the UAE are low according to official records, the Acta Scientific Paediatrics journal cited legal experts who warned that 90% of cases could go unreported.

Forty percent of child abuse cases in the UAE involve maids and 45% of child harassment cases are committed by relatives, according to the journal.

The 17th edition of the Mobile World Congress opened its doors on Monday to bustling crowds after it was reigned in last year and canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year the MWC brings together 1,500 businesses in the industry and is expected to draw in between 40,000 to 60,000 visitors. EFE


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