The Robot Week event this year was at the Tokyo Big Sight location near Tokyo Bay and was in the same hall as manufacturing and vacuum tools. So many great applications for robots to increase automation, and human leisure time. Many companies’ products were marketed to better health. Exo-skeletons were in abundance, and the queues were long to give them a test drive. Besides physical health, mental health was also addressed by robots designed to assist with outlying age groups. There were robots aimed at leading the elderly through daily exercises. They could speak and respond to phrases providing interaction without a keyboard or remote. For the younger ages, they had toddler-sized telepresence robots that allow grandparents to communicate and play on the floor with their grandkids from remote cities.
Universities students brought interesting robotic devices like a solar powered survey car, mind controlled wheel-chair, and even a biomimicry inspired snake robot. The solar car is destined to be sent into nuclear disaster sites on a one-way mission. Solar panels will power sensors, communication and motors allowing this robot to take measurements at various locations reducing the number of people risking their health to enter those areas. The mind-controlled wheel-chair is able to sense its surrounding environment, and take basic instructions from an off-the-shelf Emotiv neuro-headset. The snake bot is marvelous to see in action as the 14 wheels are not directly powered, but motion is created by laterally rotating the axles in sync to create a movement in direction perpendicular to the axles .
The Kawasaki Robot Festival was also on-site showing the success from their annual event in August. Universities compete for big prizes, and the festival hosts Jr.Robot events for school-age students to join and experiment with robotics.
Overall, it was amazing to see the wide usage of robotics already for sale, and those in the future as technical teams explore solutions to various physical, and mental challenges experienced in our everyday lives.