Business

Sharp’s humanoid RoBoHon robot to guide tourists in Kyoto

Kyodo

Sharp Corp.’s RoBoHon, a small humanoid robot with artificial intelligence features, will accompany tourists in taxis in Kyoto and offer sightseeing guidance in Japanese, Chinese and English starting Sept. 22, the service providers said Tuesday.

Sharp, Kyoto-based taxi operator MK Co. and travel agency JTB Corp. said they have teamed up to provide the tourism package until next March 31 to meet the growing demand for sightseeing using taxis amid an increasing number of travelers coming to Japan.

With the package, which will be on sale starting Monday, taxi passengers can learn about the history and culture of the sites they are visiting from conversations with RoBoHon, a two-legged robot that can interact with people using AI and has basic mobile phone functions such as voice calls and a camera.

Customers can also take the robot with them from the taxis to tourist spots for use as a guide. For the tourism package, however, the robot’s mobile phone and email functions cannot be used.

It will cost ¥6,000 per person if two or three passengers share one RoBoHon, and ¥7,000 if one passenger uses the robot for a six-hour tour.

The tour will start from an MK rendezvous point in front of Kyoto Station and its destinations will include Kiyomizu Temple, Nanzen Temple and Shogunzuka Seiryu-den, a wooden hall located on top of a mountain where visitors can get a panoramic view of Kyoto.

Sharp has been exploring the use of the robot phone, which is about 19.5 centimeters tall and weighs 390 grams, for corporate use and tourism purposes since its launch in May 2016.