Monday, July 15, 2024

Japan Rolls Out ‘Humble and Lovable’ Delivery Robot

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Japan introduces a ‘humble and lovable’ four wheeled robot to navigate across the streets and perform delivery tasks.

A four-wheeled robot dodges pedestrians on a street outside Tokyo, part of an experiment businesses hope will tackle labour shortages and rural isolation.

With introducing intelligence to technology we have also introduced smart systems and robots to be a part of our day to day life. The tasks we consider time consuming are being allotted to robots. For example, cleaning robots have now entered a large number of households around the world and are also being designed to look “cute” on the ground

One new member introduced to our society by a Japanese firm ZMP is RokuRO, a four-wheeled robot that walks the streets of Tokyo delivering groceries. Proponents hope that this robot can address the shortage of delivery workers. The robot won’t be operating entirely alone, with humans monitoring remotely and able to intervene.

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An employee at a control centre monitors Panasonic delivery robots using a live feed from remote cameras at the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.

These robots will be seen more frequently after April, as the revised traffic laws will allow self-driving delivery robots to navigate streets across Japan. Regulations set a maximum speed of six kilometers per hour (four miles per hour), meaning the chances of severe injury in the event of a collision are relatively small. Panasonic says its “Hakobo” robot can judge autonomously when to turn as well as detect obstacles, such as construction and approaching bikes, and stop.

To avoid such undesired events, they have established control centers with one man simultaneously monitoring four robots via cameras who will be automatically alerted whenever their robotic charges are stuck or stopped by obstacles. Humans will intervene in cases of high risk.

Test runs so far have ranged from delivering medicine and food to Fujisawa residents to peddling snacks in Tokyo with disarming patter such as: “Another cold day, isn’t it? How about some hot drinks?”

A child and his mother look at a mobility robot RakuRo, developed by Tokyo-based robotics firm ZMP, at the company’s service station in Tokyo.

Although the government does not expect a drastic change all of a sudden as there are jobs at stake as well. Proponents believe that rolling the robots out in sparsely populated rural areas first would be safest. However, firms say demand in cities is likely to make urban deployment more commercially viable.


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