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Once an SF Dream, Now a Reality
February 1, 2001
A Flurry of Robot Exhibitions
ASIMO looks like a child dressed in a spacesuit. "It's so lifelike!" visitors exclaimed as the robot walked smoothly, held out its hand to greet people, and moved its body in time to music. In part because the manufacturer had sent out press releases about the robot in advance, the ASIMO display was deluged by an unexpectedly large number of visitors. As a result, the organizers of ROBODEX 2000 ended up having to limit the number of visitors and even to stop selling same-day entry tickets.
A few weeks before ROBODEX 2000, a preexhibition event called RoboFesta Kanagawa 2001 was held in the city of Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture. About 20 of today's most advanced robots were on display at this two-day event, which attracted some 38,000 visitors. One of the robots had a caterpillar tread, which would enable it to search for and rescue people buried in rubble during an earthquake. Another was a planetary exploration robot that could be operated by remote control and thus could be used on the moon or Mars. Yet another robot was capable of moving so smoothly that its motions--turning around when tapped on the shoulder, shaking hands, and so on--appeared totally natural.
Robots are also stealing the show at other kinds of events, such as toy expositions. Since AIBO went on the market, many other appealing animal robots have come out. Two of the more unusual are a jellyfish and a fish, both of which actually swim underwater. Word has it that people find it therapeutic to watch the swimming motion of the robots.
Japan's First Robot Specialty Store Opens
Several major trends in Japanese society, including industrial restructuring, the falling birthrate, and the graying of society, have created demand for nonindustrial robots. Known as personal robots, they are designed to help human beings with a variety of tasks. Ever since the days of Astro Boy, Japanese people have been open to the idea of living with robots. Now, this mentality has the potential to lead to the flourishing of a unique robot culture.
Copyright (c) 2001 Japan Information Network. Edited by Japan Echo Inc. based on domestic Japanese news sources. Articles presented here are offered for reference purposes and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.