Interacting with Robots
Robosquare, Japan's largest facility for experiencing robots, is home to 74 types of robots most of which were made in Japan.
Robosquare, located in Fukuoka City on the southwestern main island of Kyushu, is home to Japan’s largest hands-on robotics museum. Children can have great time learning all about robots there.
With over 70 different types of robots, Robosquare features robots that walk on two legs, robots that can house-sit, and even robots that can quiz and otherwise communicate with users. Already for sale in Japan, the house-sitting robot is able to sense sounds and temperature changes inside your house, and will call your mobile phone if it detects anything out of the ordinary. A robot guarding your house — imagine that!
The Kuroda Bushi robot heroically performs to the Kuroda Bushi folk song at Robosquare. The head portion is made from a traditionally crafted Hakata doll from Fukuoka City and clad in traditional Hakata textile fabrics.
A municipality sponsored robot study workshop. Children make robots themselves and then pit them against each other in competition at the Sai no Kuni Robot Studio in Saitama Prefecture.
Robosquare offers many great learning experiences. Visitors can enjoy an on-stage performance by a robot samurai dancing along to Japanese folk music. Meanwhile, kids who want to do more than merely watch can also take part in a robot-building class, where the basic programming needed to make a robot move is taught.
In addition to Robosquare, universities and municipalities are launching robotics classes all over Japan, giving more and more children firsthand robot-building experience.
Building Your Own Robot
Some kids are looking to do more than simply play with robots; they want to learn to build a real robot all their own. There is a robotics class catering specifically to children with such ambitious aims. Launched last year in Tokyo’s so-called electric town of Akihabara, a major shopping area for electrical appliances, this four-year course starts by giving children an understanding of the basics of robotics such as the properties of metals and other building materials and the mechanics of movement. The course also teaches students about electronic circuits and microcomputers with the ultimate aim of giving children all the skills they need to build a robot.
An elementary school student tries his hand at making a motor for a robot at a workshop in Tokyo. (Robotics Lab, Akihabara, Tokyo)
After two years in the course, the robot is still on its way to being complete. But just imagine that at home or with friends, you can get a robot with the parts you designed and built yourself to move about — what a way to impress your friends!
Learning to make robots is all the rage. Here, boys make robots from a range of colorful parts. (Tokyo-based cram school Blue Planet)
There are also "cram schools" that teach robotics in Tokyo and Osaka, where elementary school students can start learning about building robots. Using a set containing special parts developed by Japanese companies and robot experts, they can even build an original robot differing from that on the blueprints provided if they feel especially adventurous. Plans are currently underway to export this robot study program overseas.
Whether for disaster relief, medical treatment or assistance in daily life, robots will be of increasing use in the community in years to come. Japan may be world-class when it comes to developing and building robots. By encouraging children to learn as much as possible about robots, Japan is firmly at the forefront when it comes to robot studies as well.