Hope for Japan’s ageing society, courtesy robots and humanoids

Hope for Japan’s ageing society, courtesy robots and humanoids


Tokyo: Robotics in Japan got a shot in the arm not just because Japan has traditionally been ahead in electronics and technology but because there was a felt need to deal with the problems of an ageing society.

Two years after Japan showcased the two-legged trumpet player robot to a robot receptionist, its time now for robots to be designed for daily use.

The friendly robots are a part of the 2007 International Robot Exhibition being held in Tokyo. Around 200 companies and more than 50 organizations from Japan and abroad are participating.

“Two years after the Expo, which showed the future of life with robots, it’s time to see how we can use robots," said Shoichi Hamada, a senior official at the Japan Robot Association, one of the organizers of the exhibition.

“Now practical application of robots is in sight, several companies here are in a position to let people see what the robots can actually do at this stage of technology," said Hamada.

Robots as guards and house help

While ‘security-guard’ robots are already in commercial use in Japan, newly unveiled ‘humanoids’ are now on sale.

Robot “Simroid" has been designed to be used in clinical training at dental schools. It can listen to instructions and react to pain by moving its eyes or hands.

Robot makers are seeing a big opening for robot use in Japan, where the number of elderly people is rapidly growing.

“Robot technology is very useful in an ageing society, helping people out is one of the main objectives of robots," said Kenji Kusunoki, an official at Kyokko Electric Co. Ltd., which is showcasing a wearable sensor that functions as a robot remote control.

Japanese researchers unnveiled a new humanoid designed to lend a hand with housework, particularly for the elderly. The 147-centimetre robot displayed its skills by helping an elderly person get out of bed and preparing breakfast.