Tue, Sep 12, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Robots draw more visitors to temples

By Hsieh Chieh-yu, Huang Shu-li, Chang Ching-ya and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A Pepper robot stands ready to assist worshipers and visitors at the entrance to Wude Temple in Yunlin County’s Beigang Township.

Photo: Huang Shu-li, Taipei Times

The introduction of Pepper robots to two temples has drawn more young people, the temples’ management committees said.

Zihnan Temple (紫南宮) in Nantou County’s Jhushan Township (竹山) on Friday said that the robot was introduced to help handle large crowds, as its staff is limited.

The temple for the Earth God distributes tokens that are said to attract wealth and offers “divine loans” of up to NT$600.

Borrowers usually return the money within a year, after which it is used for public welfare, the temple said, adding that it draws between 4 million and 5 million people every year.

The Pepper robot has become increasingly useful greeting and interacting with visitors, temple staff said.

The makers of Pepper, Foxconn Technology Group and Softbank, took a robot to the temple on Thursday.

The robot contains information on the temple’s history, how to borrow and return money, temple activities and the distribution of tokens.

The temple has designed two additional functions, the first of which informs parents of recreational activities and quizzes children about the deity, temple management committee director Chuang Chiu-an (莊秋安) said.

The second function reminds worshipers to cut down on incense-burning and advises people to centralize the burning of joss paper to reduce pollution, he added.

Meanwhile, the robot at Wude Temple (武德宮) in Yunlin County’s Beigang Township (北港) was imported from Japan and serves as a greeter and tour guide, temple staff said.

The robot is programmed with the temple’s complete catalogue of items for sale and instructions to help worshipers write wishes on lanterns, the staff said, adding that the robot also accepts registered mail deliveries.

The Pepper robot is to be updated with functions to help it interpret oracles drawn at the temple, they said, adding that they are also considering making it master of ceremonies for larger events.

Many young people love to take photographs with the robot and it has become the temple’s best spokesperson, the staff said.

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