This Month in Japanese Robots…

March 13, 2008 at 7:34 am 1 comment

It’s cliché, but true: Japan hearts robots. Remember Aibo, the robot dog? Or those weird battling robots that could play soccer? How about Asahi’s beer-pouring robot? (Does anyone really need that??) There’s also a Japanese pop culture magazine and store called Giant Robot. Okay, that last one’s a bit of a stretch, but my point is, each year seems to bring us new robots from Japan.


A recent article in International Business News, “Japan and Robots are an old Love Affair,” claims that Japanese robots have roots in the 17th Century. Wooden wind-up dolls with clock-like innards wearing kimonos could be found carrying trays of tea, and are considered by some to be the world’s first robots. They were called karakuri.


Today we’ve got a cell phone robot from Softbank Mobile Corporation. It unfolds from an innocuous-looking rectangle into a little robot with a face, arms and legs. It’s programmed to comment on your phone usage (“You’re calling her often these days, aren’t you?”) via text message.

And then there’s Robovie, a sort of ambassador / humanitarian robot who helps lost shoppers at a mall in Osaka. Enjoy!

Sarah S.

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March 2008


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