Tamaki URA, Director
While expectations mount over the potential roles that may be played by robots in the event of a major earthquake in Tohoku, northern Japan, or over the issue of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, there are more demands in broader areas. However, the current status of Japanese robots is such that they are unable to produce satisfactory results as “working” robots. For example, in the United States, for cleaning robots launched by U.S. company “I”, more than a million units have been sold, their prices are low, and their performance has been improved to make them work from a business perspective. Why is it that Japanese companies, who are supposed to be good at making things, hadn’t been able to market these robots ahead of Company I? Maybe it’s because research on robots has remained closed within the society of researchers and developers of robots and they hadn’t necessarily responded to the needs of society.
Research and development on robots bring dreams to children, the younger generation, and to humanity. Robotics bring significant contributions to the development of basic technology, education in fundamental sciences, and the practical uses of robots. A wide range of research is conducted at our university, from the basics to applications. Within such a social environment, our university in April 2013 established a Center for Socio-Robotic Synthesis. The center was set up in a bid to contribute to the creation of robots that are active in society, bringing together the results from our research to show specific models of robots that can work in society and be evaluated for doing good jobs and to push forward our research and development to make them a reality. With “Show your results” as our slogan, we will present ideas on how to realize robots that are able to resolve issues that are faced by society.
In 2014, Prime Minister Abe made a call for an industrial revolution through robots. This is indeed what we are aiming to accomplish. We would like to respond to the diverse needs of society and produce a diverse range of robots.