Hitachi Ltd. started trials of its EMIEW3 humanoid robot at Tokyo's Haneda airport on Friday to aid foreign visitors to Japan.
During the trials through December in the airport's domestic Terminal 2, the robot will communicate with passengers in Japanese and English at a designated information center as well as display information.
The industrial conglomerate is hoping to enable the 90-centimeter-tall humanoid robot with autonomous capabilities to guide users to destinations starting around December.
At a demonstration on Friday morning, a female foreign passenger asked EMIEW3 for directions to a foreign exchange counter. The humanoid robot at the information center called another EMIEW3 robot to take her to the location. "Please follow me," the robot said.
Since the introduction of EMIEW in 2005, Hitachi has been improving its capabilities. The newest EMIEW3, with a "remote brain" that can process images and voices, was unveiled in April. Multiple robots can be linked with the use of a remote operation system, according to Hitachi.
"We are hoping to use EMIEW3 to assist efforts to extend hospitality at Haneda airport through our trial runs," said Hiroshi Sato, senior vice president and executive officer at Hitachi.
A recent increase in the number of foreign visitors to Japan has raised the need for a variety of services, Sato said, adding that Hitachi hoped to increase the number of EMIEW3 languages available to include Chinese and Korean.