National

Japan to put robotics prowess on show during 2020 Olympics by helping staff and visitors alike

by Masumi Koizumi

Staff Writer

Acting on its aim to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics “the most innovative in history,” organizers on Friday unveiled robots that will be deployed to assist spectators and staff during the games.

The robots shown to reporters are to be used as part of the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project, as the games’ organizers see the event as a chance to showcase how the country’s robot technology focuses on practicality rather than just entertainment.

The Human Support Robot and Delivery Support Robot, developed by Toyota Motor Corp., will be used in tandem to assist visitors using wheelchairs.

HSR, a one-armed robot about a meter in height, can hold objects, pick things up off the ground and reach high up. It can move by itself or can be controlled remotely as it attends to people in wheelchairs, guiding them to their seats and helping carry items.

When people order food or drinks using a tablet computer, DSR will transport the items in a basket and HSR will then deliver them directly to guests.

Sixteen HSRs and eight to 10 DSRs are expected to be used in the stadiums hosting track and field events, according to Toyota.

In addition, Atoun Model Y, a wearable robotic suit developed by Panasonic Corp., will be used at venues and other facilities by staff tasked with carrying, loading and unloading heavy objects such as bags of waste or suitcases. Weighing 4.5 kilograms, the wearable suit can reduce the burden of heavy loads on the users’ lower backs by 10 to 40 percent, according to Panasonic.

Massaki Komiya, the organizing committee’s director general, said they are aiming to have robots that are “friendly to people for the games and enhance convenience at events, as well as provide the audience with a new experience.”

He also hopes the use of robots will become a legacy stretching beyond the 2020 Games.

Organizers said details about other robots to be used during the games will be announced at a later date.

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