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Toyota robots for Tokyo Olympics to allow “virtual participation”

  • July 22, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 03:41 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO – Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it has developed special robots for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to allow “virtual participation” of people who cannot come to the venue, using a camera and communication technology.


Toyota’s communication robots, resembling the Games’ doll mascots Miraitowa and Someity, works with the help of an installed camera. They can recognize when an athlete or guest approaches, and then welcome them with various eye and arm movements.


Toyota will offer a way for a person who cannot be at the venue to feel that they are physically present by using the mascot robots and another humanoid robot located at the venue. The humanoid robot will be able to mimic the interactions with the mascot robots in almost real time.


For example, when a child, who is at a remote location, shakes hands or high-fives with the mascot robot, the humanoid robot, which is at the venue, will make the same movements. If an athlete is in contact with the humanoid robot, the child can feel as if he or she is interacting with the athlete even though they are far away.


Similarly, a mobile robot, equipped with a nearly life-size display of a person, will allow a user’s virtual participation at the venue by having his or her image projected on the screen.


As the robot moves around the venue, following a designated guide, the user can converse with people near the robot through speakers and enjoy the atmosphere of the venue using 360-degree cameras.


Toyota also developed a self-driving robot, powered by artificial intelligence technology, for retrieving and returning items in the Games’ throwing events.


The box-shaped vehicle, with space to house items such as javelins, shotputs and discuses, recognizes and follows behind staff at an athletics venue. It can then transport the items that have been placed in the vehicle by the staff back to a designated spot on its own.


A Toyota official said the robot would help reduce the burden on staff.


The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics sponsor will also provide over 3,000 passenger vehicles for official use, including the e-Palette autonomous electric vehicle, the world’s first mass-produced fuel-cell car Mirai, and specially developed electric vehicles that can support aid activities and provide easy access to people in wheelchairs.

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