Greek cave visitors in awe of robot tour guide

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A new robot-guide named Persephone impresses visitors to the Alistrati cave in Macedonia.

Considered the world’s first robot-guide inside a cave, Persephone guides visitors through the first 150 meters (approximately 500 feet) of the part of the cave open to the public. In the remaining 750 meters (2,400 feet), a human guide takes over.

A report in the Associated Press claims that the robot was named Persephone because, “according to one version of the ancient Greek myth, it was in a nearby plain that Pluto – the god of the underworld who was also known as Hades – kidnapped Persephone, along with the consent of her father Zeus to take her for wife.

Already very popular with visitors, Persephone is able to give part of the tour in 33 languages, while also having the ability to interact with visitors, at a basic level, in three languages. He can also answer 33 questions, but only in Greek.

As reported in AP, Alistrati Cave Scientific Director Nikos Kartalis first envisioned a robot guide seventeen years ago after seeing one on television guiding visitors through an art gallery.

After finding the funds for the project, the work to build the robot was turned over to the National Technology and Research Foundation and cost 118,000 euros (US $ 139,000).

“We already have a 70% increase in the number of visitors compared to last year since we started using the robot,” explains Kartalis. “People are enthusiastic, especially the children, and people who have visited in the past are coming back to see the robot guide. “

“It’s something new for them to have the ability to interact with their robot by asking it questions and the robot answering them,” he told AP. “Many foreign visitors couldn’t believe Greece had the ability to build a robot and use it as a guide in the cave.”


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