• Kyodo

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A group of university and corporate researchers tested a range of robots in a shopping arcade in Fukuoka on Saturday in the first experiment of its kind in Japan.

Researchers from the graduate schools of Waseda University and Kyushu University, Hitachi Ltd. and Tmsuk Co., a robot development company based in Kitakyushu, tested several types of robots capable of performing diverse tasks.

One type of robot can serve as a walking stick and help the elderly walk, while another, named Tmsuk IV, can mimic the movements of its user.

Tmsuk IV, following the instructions of its operator, waved to a crowd of some 100 onlookers and picked up a handbag from a display outside a store.

Other robots displayed skills such as patrolling the inside of buildings, taking items out of shopping carts and watering plants.

Mieko Sonoda, 62, of the town of Sue in the prefecture, looked at the robots with wonder.

“I have poor eyesight, but I hope that one day such robots will be helpful, like seeing-eye dogs,” she said.

The city of Fukuoka was designated in November as a special zone for robot research and development. The city government envisions the municipality becoming one in which humans will come across robots in daily life. Researchers can test out their creations in public areas of the city so long as they obtain police permission.

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