Resistance is futile

Posted on August 30, 2019

The University’s newest robot staffer, Libby, was introduced by the Department of Library Services at a gathering for members of staff recently. Libby, who resides in the Merensky 2 Library on Hatfield Campus, assists with various functions such as being a brand ambassador, marketing the library’s services and basic assistance with some of the queries visitors may have. 

This is of course when she’s not sharing a joke or two with library visitors or entertaining them with her robo-chic dance moves. 

Libby, a petite robot, weighs 19kg and is 90cm tall, which means she can also assist people in wheelchairs. She has been working at the library since May and has an array of over 60 sensors, cameras and software integrations that enable her to receive and process various commands and requests. She is powered by Dialogflow, a Google-based artificial intelligence (AI) platform for natural language processing, which she uses to process the queries she receives.

Isak van der Walt, Senior IT Specialist/ MakerSpace Manager with Libby

The launch took place at the Function Hall in the conference centre and was well attended by staff members who wanted to find out a little more about the charming Libby. 

Isak van der Walt, Senior IT Specialist plus Makerspace and Digital Scholarship Centre Manager was one of the team members involved in setting Libby up. Van der Walt, also present at the launch, took the opportunity to show off what Libby can do, much to the delight of the audience. 

Addressing the gathering, UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Tawana Kupe said Libby’s presence had reaffirmed UP’s commitment to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

“Within a very short timeframe Libby helped in setting the tone for what our clients can expect from a 21st century library, and the library will continue to exploit these new technologies to stay in tune and enhance our service portfolio,” Prof Kupe said.

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