Charlotte Foster

Travel Trouble

Caves in northern Greece are being showcased by a robot tour guide

Caves in northern Greece are being showcased by a robot tour guide

A new tour guide in Greece is attracting tourists from all over the world, but for a very unusual reason. 

Persephone has been welcoming tourists to the Alistrati Cave in northern Greece since mid-July, but not all of the visitors are coming to see the caves. 

Persephone is the world’s first robot tour guide inside a cave, which covers the first 150 metres of the tour that is open to the public, before a human guide takes over. 

The robot can give its part of the tour in 33 languages and interact with visitors at a basic level in three languages. 

It can also answer most questions, but only in the Greek language. 

The robot’s name comes from an ancient Greek myth, where it was said that in a nearby plain that Pluto — the god of the underworld who was also known as Hades — abducted Persephone, with the consent of her father Zeus, to take her as his wife.

Nikos Kartalis, the scientific director for the Alistrati site, said the idea of creating a robot guide came to him when he saw one on TV guiding visitors at an art gallery.

Nikos said the robot finally became a reality after getting funding, with the build of the machine costing AUD$139,000.

"We already have a 70 per cent increase in visitors compared to last year since we started using" the robot, says Kartalis.

"People are enthusiastic, especially the children, and people who had visited in the past are coming back to see the robot guide."

"It is something unprecedented for them, to have the ability to interact with their robot by asking it questions and the robot answering them," he said.

The caves have been a regular tourist spot since they opened to visitors in 1998, with people coming from all over the world to explore the three million year old site.

Image credit: YouTube