CityTalk is a talking robot dialogue system that gives information for tourists about local hotels, shops, restaurants and other places of interest. The robot asks questions to clarify what the user wants to know about and what their preferences are. The system can switch domains during the dialogue, for example the robot can give information about hotels using a hotel database and then switch to give information about restaurants using a restaurant database.

CityTalk integrates the robot's speech recognition and speech synthesis components with PyDial, a research toolkit for dialogue systems developed by University of Cambridge. PyDial applies deep learning techniques to statistical dialogue systems, including recurrent neural networks for language generation and deep reinforcement learning for dialogue policy. Domain switching is managed by a topic tracker module that identifies the required domain based on what the user says.

CityTalk was demonstrated at the 27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2018). More details are on the news page.

CityTalk Tokyo Waterfront (10 minutes)

This video shows a robot giving information about hotels and restaurants in Tokyo Waterfront, the area near the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The robot gives information about three hotels in different price ranges. When the person asks about restaurants, the robot switches domains and tells about several restaurants in different price ranges and serving different types of food.

CityTalk first demo (4 minutes)

This video shows a robot giving information about hotels and restaurants in Cambridge. When the person asks about hotels, the robot clarifies which part of town they have in mind and what price range is suitable, then suggests a hotel using a local hotel database. When the person asks about a restaurant, the robot switches domains and asks which part of town and what kind of food they would like, then suggests two restaurants using a local restaurant database.

What robots does it work on?

CityTalk works on Nao and Pepper humanoid robots.

What languages are available?

CityTalk currently works in English. Localizations for other languages are planned.

What domains are available?

The PyDial toolkit includes domains for Cambridge hotels and Cambridge restaurants. New domains can be added by providing a database and an ontology for each domain. CityTalk has added domains including Tokyo Waterfront hotels and restaurants.


The PyDial statistical dialogue systems toolkit was developed by Cambridge University Engineering Department. We thank the Dialogue Systems Group for making it freely available.