Controversial – this is how some might have described what happened at the Bethlehem Chapel on 22 March 2019 at 10 am. A 600-year-old history represented by Jan Hus’s revolutionary ideas was confronted with cutting-edge 21st century technology represented by Pepper the robot. For the first time in the history of the Czech Republic, a learned, reformist past shook hands with an algorithmic future, with fresh graduates from the Faculty of Information technology, CTU in Prague, bearing witness to this historic moment.
Humanoid robot Pepper from the Laboratory of Intelligent Embedded Systems at FIT CTU became part of the event at the Bethlehem Chapel, where it played a key role in the graduation ceremony of bachelor and master students. Until then, graduates had received their diplomas from members of the academic community at FIT CTU. However, FIT took things to the next level and for the first time in history, they recruited a humanoid robot to do this task. Thus, the Faculty of Information technology transferred the chapel’s genius loci to a contemporary level.
The robot had about 30 seconds to present a diploma to a student, shake hands with them and extend its congratulations.
“Pepper has been preparing for the graduation ceremony since October last year,” says Martin Rameš, a student who works with Pepper. “The programming took about a week. The aim was to set the robot to do the required task in the shortest time possible, as about 70 graduates were expected to attend the ceremony,” Rameš explains.
He adds that there were a lot of problems that needed to be taken care of, such as the bad lighting conditions in the chapel. In order to recognize a diploma, the robot uses cameras in its eyes that are not as adaptable to outside conditions as the human eye.
“We also found out that Pepper’s fingers were not strong enough to be able to hold the diploma. We had to re-programme it so that the arms now support the weight of the diploma without overheating,” Rameš concludes.
Students at FIT CTU are the only students in the Czech Republic that can use the humanoid robots Pepper in the newly equipped Laboratory of Intelligent Embedded Systems.
“This modern laboratory equipped with the best technology is a great facility that the students at FIT CTU can use,” says Ing. Miroslav Skrbek, Ph.D., head of the lab. “We aim to create conditions that will help talented students develop and will provide them with as much experience with working with the latest technology as possible,” concludes Miroslav Skrbek.
Humanoid robots Pepper and NAO, drones, holographic glasses for robotic applications for augmented reality – all this technology is part of the Laboratory of Intelligent Embedded Systems. The lab is co-financed from the European Union, Operational Programme Research, Development and Education’s project “Laboratory of Intelligent Embedded Systems at FIT CTU in Prague”. The aim of the project is to establish and equip the laboratory with the latest technology.