Domino's may be forward thinking with its smartphone apps, but Pizza Hut is about to let a damn robot take your order. How's that for the future? Pizza Hut Asia and MasterCard are partnering to bring Pepper, SoftBank's somewhat creepy humanoid robot to restaurants by the end of 2016. If all goes as planned, Pepper will be able to take and process entire customer orders. This marks the first commerce application for Pepper, according to MasterCard.
It starts with an innocent, friendly hello. From there, MasterCard holders can pair their account with Pepper by using the MasterPass wallet app or scanning a QR code on the tablet attached to Pepper's chest. Pepper will help Pizza Hut visitors make menu selections with personalized recommendations and special offers. Fear not! Pepper's not here to judge your calorie intake. Pepper just wants to make sure you don't forget about the joys of stuffed-crust pizza or miss out on any specials that are valid during your visit.
"Don't forget about the free 2-liter with any two medium pizzas."
Throughout this process, the robot makes hand gestures and speaks in a friendly voice to put people at ease, just like in the interaction below.
And this customer certainly seems relaxed around Pepper. Look, she even pets the thing's head. That's a little weird and not something you'd do to a living, breathing server, but it's not every day that you get to ask a robot for some pizza and wings.
When it comes time to pay the bill, Pepper is equipped to handle that as well. Customers must authorize the payment to go through, but once they do, it's all completed in a matter of seconds — and everything happens in MasterPass, so it's also secure. The whole idea here is that this experience offers something more than tapping away on a tablet or kiosk attached to the table.
Pepper's getting a fresh set of skills that go beyond helping you obtain breadsticks. At Google I/O last week, it was announced that there'll be an Android SDK for the robot, and developer versions of Pepper will cost around $1,800 when they go on sale in July. IBM is also looking to bring SoftBank's humanoid bot some of Watson's smarts.