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Army of avatar robots readies to invade Japanese job market

#artificialintelligence

Japanese startups are getting ready to deploy a small army of remote-controlled robots in the workplace. Called avatar robots, the machines are still experimental and their initial objectives limited. But if everything goes as planned, they could soon be clerking at convenience stores, patrolling buildings as security guards, or even assisting astronauts in outer space. The technology has the potential to replace humans, helping solve labor shortages and providing relief to essential workers combating natural disasters. Convenience stores in Tokyo have already put prototypes of the robots to work stocking shelves with beverages, instant noodles and other goods.


Japan's robots fill the void as social distancing becomes the norm

The Japan Times

The coronavirus pandemic has forced society to reshape how people interact, and robots are fast filling the void, even to the point of helping alleviate feelings of loneliness in a world where social distancing has become the new norm. While automatons were primarily utilized to perform menial tasks such as cleaning in the past, their ability to remove the need for close contact has now elevated their status and importance. In February, robot and technology solutions company Seikatsu Kakumei Inc. began selling what it dubbed a "digital teleportation robot" package to help businesses carry out customer-facing activities during the pandemic. By helping shops, showrooms, conventions and trade exhibitions handle visitors, robots "can bring people closer to the normal state of communication," said CEO Yuko Miyazawa. "Being holed up in a room is unnatural for human beings," he added.


Sony and ANA to jointly develop remotely controlled avatar robots

The Japan Times

Sony Corp. and airline ANA Holdings Inc. said Monday they have agreed to work together to develop remotely controlled avatar robots. Under the basic agreement, Sony AI Inc. will provide its artificial intelligence, robotics and sensing technologies to Avatarin Inc. of the ANA group, a developer of stick-shaped avatar robots that can be controlled remotely by computers. With the new coronavirus pandemic restricting human contact, the two companies hope to use the robots in a wide range of situations such as for teleworking, nursing care at homes and shopping as well as for sightseeing. "There will be an increasing demand for various remote robotic solutions that can perform physical tasks, especially in high-risk environments and situations where human contact and movement are restricted," said Sony AI CEO Hiroaki Kitano. The two companies aim to "establish a new social foundation for avatars and raise the level of social life," he said in a statement.


Japanese carrier ANA opens world's first shop equipped with avatar robots

The Japan Times

KYODO – Japanese airline ANA Holdings Inc. opened Thursday what it says is the world's first store where customers can shop remotely through an avatar. The robots, standing 1.5 meters tall, will be employed at the avatar-in store through Dec. 24 in a shopping mall in Tokyo's Nihombashi district, in collaboration with major department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd. Customers using computers can control the robots called newme from anywhere in the country and shop for items in the gift store as if they were there. No actual customers will be allowed to physically enter the avatar-in store. The robot, which moves around the store on wheels, includes a tablet-sized monitor that displays the customer's facial expressions in real time. Online registration is required to use the service, said ANA, which plans to introduce as many as 1,000 avatar robots in Japan, including 100 in the Nihombashi business and commercial district next year in time for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.


Society 5.0 Town Turns Heads At Japan's CEATEC Tech Show

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We've all tried Google Street View before, but what if you could explore the world and see faraway places through the eyes of a roving machine? At the recent Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) outside Tokyo, telepresence robots equipped with displays showing their remote users were turning heads on the show floor. These simple machines are basically webcams on wheels, but they formed a striking example of how a system that combines hardware in the physical world with online users and cloud-based artificial intelligence will become part of everyday life. Akira Fukabori, director of ANA HOLDINGS INC.'s Avatar Division, shows off an all-terrain Avatar robot at CEATEC 2019. Developed by OhmniLabs and ANA HOLDINGS INC., the parent company of All Nippon Airways, the newme Avatar telepresence robots are up to 150 cm tall and roll around on a wheeled base at speeds up to 2.9 kph.


A colony of 'avatar robots' will replace astronauts and operate a long-term base on the MOON

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Russia is developing a moon base which will be operated with remote-controlled avatars, according to the country's space boss. Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, has laid out plans to put robotic avatars on our natural satellite and have them operated by people on Earth. He claimed this endeavour is more ambitious than the iconic US'Apollo' programme of the '60s and '70s. 'This is about creating a long-term base, naturally, not habitable, but visited. But basically, it is the transition to robotic systems, to avatars that will solve tasks on the Moon surface,' Mr Rogozin said.


Avatar Robots Are Moving From Science Fiction To Science Fact CNBC

#artificialintelligence

The seeds of the technology imagined by "Surrogates" and "Avatar" are now being sown. About CNBC: From'Wall Street' to'Main Street' to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Find CNBC News on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC


Avatar Robots Are Moving From Science Fiction To Science Fact CNBC

#artificialintelligence

The seeds of the technology imagined by "Surrogates" and "Avatar" are now being sown. About CNBC: From'Wall Street' to'Main Street' to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: http://www.cnbc.com/ Find CNBC News on Facebook: http://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC


Video Friday: Japan's Avatar Robot, Lidar vs. Camera, and Knicks' Drone Show

IEEE Spectrum Robotics

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. Takahiro Nozaki and colleagues of the Faculty of Science and Technology and Haptics Research Center at Keio University developed a haptic-based avatar-robot with a General Purpose Arm (GPA) that transmits sound, vision, movement, and importantly, highly sensitive sense of touch (force tactile transmission), to a remotely located user in real time. "This'real-haptics' is an integral part of the Internet of Actions (IoA) technology, having applications in manufacturing, agriculture, medicine, and nursing care," says Nozaki.