A chatbot with free tours and city quests has been launched in Moscow. It was developed by the Moscow Recreation and Tourism Agency (Mosgortour) and the city Department of Culture for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. However, it will continue helping Moscow residents and tourists after the World Cup is over. The bot will take users along central streets, commenting on major city highlights and architectural monuments.
“Virtual robot Boris leads these tours. He will show Moscow’s places of interest and quiz users. If an answer isn’t known, the user can ask Boris for a hint. The bot operates on a special website with tours available in Russian, English and Spanish. They will be especially appreciated by those who want to walk around the city on their own, without a group of tourists, and at the same time want to learn a lot of new facts about Moscow and its museums,” said Mosgrotour Director General Vasily Ovchinnikov.
Users can choose from five itineraries: Kropotkinskaya–Kitay-Gorod, from the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour to the Romanov Chambers; Kropotkinskaya–Luzhniki, from the central streets to the main 2018 FIFA World Cup stadium; Smolenskaya–Arbatskaya, along historical sites; Arbatskaya–Tretyakovskaya, along manorial estates to the Tretyakov Art Gallery; and Krasnopresnenskaya–Moscow City along picturesque city streets to the International Business Centre.
The tours are from 1.5 to 2.5 hours long. Detailed information on the itineraries is available on the chatbot site. To start a tour, the user chooses an itinerary and touches the “Pass the Itinerary” button. Boris the robot will prompt the walker on how to reach any point on the way and will attach photos of the places for convenience. The itineraries were developed by experienced tour guides who have been leading educational walks in Moscow for years.
The chatbot will continue operating after the World Cup is over. According to Ovchinnikov, the bot will be improved as Mosgortour creates additional itineraries and quests for users.
Mosgortour has also designed a cultural map of Moscow in Russian, English and Spanish for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and printed 150,000 copies. The map contains information on the largest Moscow theatres, parks, cathedrals, churches and museums. Guide maps are available at the FAN ID distribution centres and from volunteers at metro station information desks.
2018 FIFA World Cup matches are taking place in 11 cities: Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Sochi, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Kaliningrad, Yekaterinburg and Saransk. The tournament opened with a match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, in which the hosts won 5-0. Moscow is the main city for the World Cup; it will host another nine matches and the closing ceremony.