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Robots have already invaded the operating room in some hospitals, but in Belgium they will soon be taking on the potentially more difficult task — for robots, at least — of greeting patients and giving them directions.

The Citadelle regional hospital in Liège and the Damiaan general hospital in Ostend will be working with Zora Robotics to test patients’ reactions to robot receptionists in the coming months.

Zora already has experience programming the diminutive humanoid robot Nao to act as a chatty companion for the elderly, offering it as a form of therapy for those with dementia.

Now the Belgian company is working with Nao’s newer, bigger sibling, Pepper. Both were developed by French robotics company Aldebaran, now owned by Japanese Internet conglomerate SoftBank.

Like Nao before it, Pepper has already found work as a receptionist in Japanese hotels, an environment where visitors are likely to be less nervous and more familiar with their surroundings than those arriving at a hospital.

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