Robot receptionist reports for duty at Smart Dubai office

Farah is capable of welcoming guests, taking tea and coffee orders and helping with security screenings and payments
A new employee – a 1.5 metre tall robot named Farah – has taken over duties at a receptionist as part of a trial at the Smart Dubai Office (SDO), the government body announced on Sunday.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Sun 26 Nov 2017 04:21 PM

A new employee – a 1.5 metre tall robot named Farah – has taken over duties at a receptionist as part of a trial at the Smart Dubai Office (SDO), the government body announced on Sunday.

Farah , which means ‘happiness’ in Arabic, features a touch-screen panel which visitors to the office can check-in and that alerts the employee that they are meeting that they have arrived. The robot will then escort the guest to the meeting room, allowing them to settle in while they wait for their host.

The robot was named following an internal competition within the SDO and will be subject to a three-month trial period like its human colleagues.

According to SDO, Farah’s sophisticated programming means it is also capable of taking beverage orders and transmitting them to the office pantry, as well as helping with security screening and taking payment orders.

“Smart Dubai is delighted to host this ground-breaking experiment in artificial intelligence – the first of its kind in the region – at our offices,” said Dr Aisha Bint Butti Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office.

“Our objective is not to replace humans with robots, rather to understand where we can automate some repetitive administrative functions to allow us to invest in and create new types of sustainable employment opportunities for talented people.

“Farah the robot has not replaced any of our team members seeing as we already had a touchscreen reception facility. It is our hope that this three-month experiment will give us some great insights into the potential uses of applied artificial intelligence in our quest to make Dubai a world-leading smart city.

“We are also looking forward to sharing the insights with other partner government entities as we additionally seek to maximise the use of new technologies in the public sector,” bin Bishr added.

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