TOKYO – Robotic machines designed to replace and help humans at the workplace are the stars of the SoftBank Robot World 2017 that started on Tuesday in Tokyo, with innovations such as robots that control excavators, automatic forklifts and the robot English teachers.
The two-day event dedicated to robotics, organized by the telecommunications corporation SoftBank Group, featured, among other creations, the RS26, an automated cleaning machine by the US-based companies Brain Corp and ICE, which seeks to address the business’ difficulties in finding maintenance staff to clean large floor areas.
Yusuke Abe, from the department of communications at Softbank, told EFE that it was difficult for companies to find people for the job, because the cleaning of establishments such as malls and supermarkets is typically carried out during the night.
The show also featured a range of latest applications for SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper, starting from its transformation into an elderly lady that sells candies to an assistant that cares for old people.
Abe said that the number of people who are dedicating themselves to taking care of the elderly was going down globally; it was also a stressful job, something that does not affect Pepper.
Other companies at the event included Asratec, which showcased a humanoid robot capable of controlling the steering wheel of an excavator while being operated by remote control, and Sharp, which has created an automatic forklift that can streamline the process of lifting heavy loads in warehouses, factories or airports.
Of smaller size, and a more adorable appearance, is the robot Musio X, an English teacher for junior school students that also doubles as a dictionary, alarm clock and radio.
SoftBank, which considers robots to be the next generation in information technology, is aware of the potential that the technology has, not only in the industrial or communications sector, but also in the field of entertainment.
In this context, possibly the most eye-catching creation on display is the J-Deite Ride, a robot that transforms into a car.
The Transformers-style project is an idea of Kenji Ishida, CEO of Brave Robotics, who attended the event with a 1.3-meter (4.2-foot) long prototype, and is already working on the creation of a 4-meter-long model with enough space for two adults that will be ready to ride by the end of this year, he told EFE.
When the robot is ready, the company aims to sell principally to theme parks in Japan and also abroad, where Ishida considers the demand to be higher.