Persephone, the robotic information, leads guests in a Greek cave

ALISTRATI, Greece (AP) — Persephone is a tour information in Greece, however maybe not the kind persons are used to.

Billed because the world’s first robotic tour information inside a cave, Persephone has been welcoming guests since mid-July to the Alistrati Collapse northern Greece, 135 kilometers (84 miles) northeast of town of Thessaloniki.

The multilingual robotic covers the primary 150 meters (roughly 500 toes) of the a part of the cave that’s open to the general public. Within the remaining 750 meters (2,400 toes), a human information takes over.

The robotic was named Persephone as a result of, in keeping with one model of the traditional Greek delusion, it was in a close-by plain that Pluto — the god of the underworld who was also referred to as Hades — kidnapped Persephone, with the consent of her father Zeus, to take her as his spouse.

The robotic may give its a part of the tour in 33 languages and work together at a primary stage with guests in three languages. It may possibly additionally reply 33 questions, however solely in Greek.

Nikos Kartalis, the scientific director for the Alistrati website, had the concept of making the robotic when he noticed one on TV guiding guests at an artwork gallery. Seventeen years later, “we acquired our funds and the robotic information turned a actuality,” Kartalis instructed The Related Press.

The robotic was constructed by the Nationwide Expertise and Analysis Basis and value 118,000 euros ($139,000).

“We have already got a 70% enhance in guests in comparison with final 12 months since we began utilizing” the robotic, says Kartalis. “Persons are enthusiastic, particularly the youngsters, and individuals who had visited previously are coming again to see the robotic information.”

“It’s one thing unprecedented for them, to have the power to work together with their robotic by asking it questions and the robotic answering them,” he stated. “Many international guests couldn’t imagine Greece had the capability to construct a robotic and use it as a information within the cave.”


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The robotic strikes alongside a walkway, passing by means of an ornate panorama of stalactites and stalagmites. These diverse formations can attain 15 meters (50 toes) tall and are seen all through the cave’s almost 1 kilometer (1.6-mile) walkway, which is accessible to individuals with restricted mobility.

“This cave is likely one of the most stunning, not solely in Greece however in Europe, as properly,” says Kartalis. “It has stalactites and stalagmites in lots of shapes and colours, even purple.”

He stated the cave was 3 million years outdated and was first explored in 1974 by the Hellenic Speleological Society and a staff of Austrian speleologists. It opened to guests in 1998.

Persephone, with a white physique, black head and two luminous eyes, strikes on wheels, guiding guests to the primary three of eight stops alongside the walkway. She will be able to do two extra stops, however her low pace slows down the tour, which is performed in three languages concurrently. Persephone’s creators are contemplating methods to hurry her up.

The robotic’s begins by saying: “My title is Persephone, I’m the daughter of the goddess Demeter and the spouse of Pluto, the god of the underworld. I welcome you to my beneath Earth kingdom, the Alistrati Cave.”

Many guests are intrigued by the robotic information.

“It was shocking for me. I’ve by no means skilled such a factor. Truly, actually, I want a reside information, but it surely’s fascinating doing it this fashion. And I just like the tempo of the robotic. It goes slower, so I can go searching,” stated Patrick Markes, a Czech customer.

Markes listened to the primary three stops from the robοt in his native language and the remainder in English from a human tour information.

“I ought to thank Persephone, our robotic, she stated very superb issues,” stated Christos Tenis, a Greek customer. “I’m impressed by the cave. After all, we had a flawless (human) information, she defined many issues. I’m very impressed.”

Persephone just isn’t the one know-how used contained in the cave. There is a cellphone app by which a customer, scanning a QR code, can see the Alistrati Beroni. That’s a microorganism that’s solely discovered on this cave, within the big mounds of bat droppings left behind when the cave was opened and the bats migrated elsewhere.

Evdokia Karafera is likely one of the tour guides who companions with the robotic.

“It’s useful, as a result of it speaks many languages. There’s just a bit delay within the touring,” she stated. “Most discover it fascinating, particularly the youngsters, and discover it fascinating that it speaks many languages.”

Karafera insisted, nevertheless, that human tour guides can’t be fully changed.

“Robots, in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later, will take over many roles. However I imagine they can’t substitute people all over the place,” she stated. “(Guests say) ‘the robotic is fascinating, unique, however can’t substitute for the human contact with the information and the dialog we will have on the best way again.’”


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