Pepper robot

Image via @DBE_SA Twitter

Watch: Pepper the Robot ‘oversees’ delivery of 2019 matric results

Pepper the Robot joined Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on stage at the 2019 matric results announcement in Midrand on Tuesday.

Pepper robot

Image via @DBE_SA Twitter

Motshekga announced the matric results of the 2019 National Senior Certificate on Tuesday 7 January – with the help of none other than Pepper the Robot.  

Pepper stood on stage during the procession, addressed the audience and helped Motshekga to deliver the matric results. Pepper even got a hug from the minister at the end of her address. 

Watch: Pepper the Robot addresses matric class of 2019

Pepper: World’s first social humanoid robot

According to its maker, SoftBank Robotics, Pepper is the world’s first social humanoid robot able to recognise faces and basic human emotions. 

Pepper was optimised for human interaction and is able to engage with people through conversation and his touch screen.

Pepper is available for use in businesses and schools. More than 2 000 companies around the world have adopted Pepper as an assistant to welcome, inform and guide visitors in an innovative way.

Nine features of Pepper Robot 

  • 20 degrees of freedom for natural and expressive movements;
  • Speech recognition and dialogue available in 15 languages;
  • Perception modules to recognise and interact with the person talking to him;
  • Touch sensors, LEDs and microphones for multimodal interactions;
  • Infrared sensors, bumpers, an inertial unit, 2D and 3D cameras, and sonars for omni-directional and autonomous navigation;
  • Open and fully programmable platform;
  • Standing 120cm tall, Pepper has no trouble in perceiving his environment and entering into a conversation when he sees a person;
  • The touch screen on his chest displays content to highlight messages and support speech; and
  • His curvy design ensures danger-free use and a high level of acceptance by users.

Effects of the 4IR 

4IR, otherwise known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, is characterised by a fusion of technologies blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres, collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems.

According to, it’s also a fusion of advances in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, genetic engineering, quantum computing, and other technologies. 

It’s the collective force behind many products and services that are fast becoming indispensable to modern life. Think GPS systems that suggest the fastest route to a destination, voice-activated virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri, personalised Netflix recommendations, and Facebook’s ability to recognise your face and tag you in a friend’s photo.

As a result of this perfect storm of technologies, 4IR is paving the way for transformative changes in the way we live and radically disrupting almost every business sector. It’s all happening at an unprecedented, whirlwind pace. 

As these technologies change what’s possible, they’re also transforming customers’ expectations. A global survey from Salesforce Research shows that a majority of those surveyed, believe that these technologies — and the experiences they enable — will transform their interactions with companies within five years.

Mixed reactions on Twitter  

Most reactions to Pepper the Robot were ones of dismay. When the Department of Basic Education tweeted an image of the robot up on stage with matrics at the formal announcement on Tuesday 7 January, Twitter users said it was ironic.

“The irony that most matrics getting results with help from Pepper the Robot won’t be prepared to compete with it for a job,” said one user. 

Another concern was load shedding which has recently made a dark return in South Africa. 

With Eskom releasing a statement saying they would take into consideration the announcement of matric results in terms of load shedding, the Tweeps were up in arms. 

“Mam Angie Motshekga sounds nervous announcing the #MatricResults2019 and I’m not sure if it’s because of Pepper the Robot or #loadshedding accommodating the results,” said a user. 

“We need a robot president like Pepper that will be programmed and deliver as requested by the citizens. As a country, we are tired of being let down by people* who keep on being shocked whenever we go to load shedding,” added another user.