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Persephone, the robot guide, leads visitors in a Greek cave

ALISTRATI, Greece — Persephone is a tour tutorial in Greece, but possibly not the form people are utilised to.

Billed as the world’s first robot tour manual inside a cave, Persephone has been welcoming site visitors since mid-July to the Alistrati Cave in northern Greece, 84 miles northeast of the city of Thessaloniki.

The multilingual robot covers the 1st about 500 toes of the section of the cave that is open up to the public. In the remaining 2,400 ft, a human guide usually takes above.

The robotic was named Persephone simply because, according to 1 variation of the historic Greek fantasy, it was in a nearby plain that Pluto — the god of the underworld who was also identified as Hades — kidnapped Persephone, with the consent of her father Zeus, to take her as his spouse.

The robot can give its portion of the tour in 33 languages and interact at a essential degree with guests in a few languages. It can also solution 33 inquiries, but only in Greek.

Nikos Kartalis, the scientific director for the Alistrati web page, had the idea of developing the robot when he saw one particular on Tv set guiding people at an artwork gallery. Seventeen years later on, “we bought our funds and the robotic manual became a fact,” Kartalis advised The Associated Press.

The robot was designed by the Countrywide Know-how and Investigate Basis and price tag $139,000.

Persephone guides the readers inside of Alistrati cave, about 84 miles northeast of Thessaloniki, Greece, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.

“We by now have a 70% increase in guests compared to very last yr considering the fact that we started off using” the robot, says Kartalis. “People are enthusiastic, primarily the children, and folks who had frequented in the previous are coming again to see the robotic tutorial.”

“It is something unparalleled for them, to have the capacity to interact with their robotic by asking it inquiries and the robotic answering them,” he mentioned. “Many overseas readers couldn’t imagine Greece had the capability to make a robotic and use it as a information in the cave.”

The robot moves together a walkway, passing by way of an ornate landscape of stalactites and stalagmites. These varied formations can attain 50 ft tall and are seen during the cave’s virtually 1.6-mile walkway, which is accessible to people today with restricted mobility.

“This cave is 1 of the most attractive, not only in Greece but in Europe, as very well,” suggests Kartalis. “It has stalactites and stalagmites in quite a few styles and hues, even pink.”

Persephone guides the visitors inside Alistrati cave, about 84 miles northeast of Thessaloniki, Greece, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.
Persephone guides the guests inside of Alistrati cave, about 84 miles northeast of Thessaloniki, Greece, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.

He reported the cave was 3 million a long time aged and was first explored in 1974 by the Hellenic Speleological Culture and a group of Austrian speleologists. It opened to people in 1998.

Persephone, with a white physique, black head and two luminous eyes, moves on wheels, guiding guests to the initially a few of 8 stops along the walkway. She can do two more stops, but her low velocity slows down the tour, which is conducted in three languages simultaneously. Persephone’s creators are taking into consideration techniques to pace her up.

The robot’s commences by indicating: “My name is Persephone, I am the daughter of the goddess Demeter and the spouse of Pluto, the god of the underworld. I welcome you to my below Earth kingdom, the Alistrati Cave.”

Many visitors are intrigued by the robot tutorial.

“It was shocking for me. I’ve in no way seasoned this sort of a matter. Actually, truthfully, I choose a are living manual, but it’s attention-grabbing performing it this way. And I like the pace of the robot. It goes slower, so I can glimpse around,” reported Patrick Markes, a Czech visitor.

Markes listened to the 1st three stops from the robοt in his indigenous language and the relaxation in English from a human tour guidebook.

“I really should thank Persephone, our robotic, she mentioned pretty good issues,” stated Christos Tenis, a Greek customer. “I’m impressed by the cave. Of course, we experienced a flawless (human) manual, she spelled out numerous matters. I’m very impressed.”

Persephone guides the visitors inside Alistrati cave, about 135 kilometers (84 miles) northeast of Thessaloniki, Greece, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.
Persephone guides the website visitors inside Alistrati cave, about 84 miles northeast of Thessaloniki, Greece, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021.

Persephone is not the only engineering applied inside of the cave. There’s a cellphone app in which a customer, scanning a QR code, can see the Alistrati Beroni. That’s a microorganism that is only uncovered in this cave, in the large mounds of bat droppings still left guiding when the cave was opened and the bats migrated somewhere else.

Evdokia Karafera is a single of the tour guides who companions with the robotic.

“It is useful, simply because it speaks a lot of languages. There is just a little delay in the touring,” she explained. “Most find it intriguing, specially the small children, and find it exciting that it speaks numerous languages.”

Karafera insisted, however, that human tour guides can not be completely replaced.

“Robots, at some position in the future, will choose in excess of lots of work. But I think they can not substitute humans all over the place,” she said. “(People say) ‘the robotic is attention-grabbing, unique, but just cannot substitute for the human speak to with the information and the dialogue we can have on the way back.’”

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