Passengers traveling through the non-public, post-security area of Munich Airport’s Terminal 2 in coming weeks will be met by a humanoid robot offering airport directions and information. Munich Airport and Lufthansa, which jointly run Terminal 2, will gauge passenger interaction with the 47in.-tall robot in a test program as it greets passengers at the top of the ramp leading to the shuttle connecting the main terminal to the satellite building.

The robot, which speaks English and is named Josie Pepper, began its test run Feb. 15 and is expected to offer passengers directions to airline gates, shops and restaurants. The most prominent of a line of robotic products developed by Paris-based SoftBank Robotics, Pepper robots were launched in 2014 and are already deployed at stores and airports in Japan and other countries. The Munich Airport version is the first Pepper deployment at a German airport. The Pepper robot stands on rollers, has moveable arms, and swivels its head to look directly at its questioner.

The Pepper robot is equipped with a high-performance processor with a WLAN internet access that connects to a cloud service operated by IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT). Incoming speech is processed, interpreted and linked to airport data. The robot answers each question specifically, without a prepared text, and is programmed to learn how to combine incoming questions with relevant information and eventually deliver more precise responses.

According to SoftBank’s press kit, a Pepper robot costs €19,900 ($24,600).

Mark Nensel