Mayor Deirdre Comerford and CQUniversity deputy Vice-Chancellor Pierre Viljoen meet Pepper the robot.
Mayor Deirdre Comerford and CQUniversity deputy Vice-Chancellor Pierre Viljoen meet Pepper the robot. Contributed

Robots ‘taking over’ the region

HAVING robots take over the world is a fear that's frequently played out on our movie screens.

But the prospect will come much closer to home when Pepper, the world's first emotive robot, arrives in Mackay this month.

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Deirdre Comerford met Pepper during a visit to Japan last year.

After that visit the region was invited to host two of the humanoid robots in partnership with CQUniversity.

Council economic development manager Debra Howe said having the artificially intelligent robots was an "all-time first for Australia".

"Mackay's robots will be the first outside of Japan," she said.

Pepper made its Aussie debut with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the World Science Festival opening in Brisbane on Wednesday night.

CQUniversity deputy Vice-Chancellor for Mackay-Whitsunday region Professor Pierre Viljoen said the robots would be an asset to the region, as well as the university's mechatronics engineering program.

"Pepper is a state-of-the-art, artificially intelligent robot that can talk, move around, avoid obstacles or follow you, gesture, and recharge all on his own," he said.

"He can recognise emotion by the tone of your voice, facial expressions and words, and can memorise names, faces, moods, tastes and habits.

"The possibilities for Pepper's development are endless and will expose young people to world-leading technology, right here in Mackay."

One robot will be housed at the new high-tech Dudley Denny City Library, the other will be at CQUniversity's $16.6million Rennie Fritschy Engineering Building at Ooralea campus.

Professor Viljoen said mechatronics was an important skill area for mining and agricultural industries, with "automation and control being key growth areas in the engineering sector".


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