Japanese robotics

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There are many variations of Japanese robotics. Some different types of robots are: Humanoid Entertainment Robots, Androids, Animal (four-legged) Robots, Social Robots, Guard Robots, and many more. There are also a variety of characteristics for these robots.

Japan employs over a quarter of a million industrial robot workers. In the next 15 years, Japan estimates that number to jump to over one million and they expect revenue for robotics to be near $70 billion by 2025.[1]

ASIMO is a humanoid robot built by Honda.

Types of Robots[edit]

Human Robots[edit]


Androids are robots designed to strongly resemble humans.

  • Actroid, a realistic female robot demonstrated most prominently at Expo 2005 in Japan
  • Hanako, a humanoid robot designed for dentist training[4]
  • HRP-4C, a humanoid robot with a realistic head and the average figure of a young Japanese female [5]

Animal (four-legged) robots[edit]

Social robots[edit]

Guard robots[edit]

Domestic robots[edit]

Mobility robot[edit]

Rescue robots[edit]

Industrial humanoid robotics[edit]

Astronaut robots[edit]

  • Kirobo is Japan's first robot astronaut, arrived on the ISS on August 10, 2013

Industrial robotics[edit]

Eventually the deeper long term financial resources and strong domestic market enjoyed by the Japanese companies prevailed, their robots spread all over the globe. Only a few non-Japanese companies managed to survive in this market, including Adept Technology, Stäubli-Unimation, the Swedish-Swiss company ABB (ASEA Brown-Boveri), the Austrian manufacturer igm Robotersysteme AG and the German company KUKA Robotics.

This includes the one used by the robot based automative production plants, known as assembly line robots.


A recently created robot called CB² or Child-robot with Biomimetic Body may follow moving objects with its eyes.[16] CB² may recognize the human touch, which is possible thanks to the 197 film-like pressure sensors that are placed under its rubbery skin. Asada, the team of engineers and brain specialists together with psychologists and many other specialists in the related domain created a CB² that may record emotional expressions, memorize them and then match them with physical sensations.

The characteristics of robots are however progressive, their abilities being enlarged as the technology has progressed. The same CB² acts more and more as human and it was capable of teaching itself how to walk with the aid of human help. The robot learned how to move around the room by using its 51 "muscles," which are driven by air pressure.

The humanoid Japanese robots characteristics include abilities such as blinking, smiling or expressing emotions akin to anger and surprise. One of the newest Japanese robots, HRP-4C is a female-robot programmed to catwalk. It walks and talks and with the help of 30 motors it may move its legs and arms however loudly and awkwardly. The facial expressions that are capable of are driven by 8 facial motors to make it smile or blink and change the facial expression as a response to anger or surprise.[17]

Robots that are intended to play with children usually look like animals and depending on what animal they are, they make different sounds, move, walk and play. Robot-dogs for example may bark, move their tails and somehow run or play with a child.

There are also the mountable robots that can carry their passengers almost anywhere they need to go. Some of the Japanese robots move through rolling.[18]

Mobility and movement[edit]

One of the characteristics and advances of Japanese robotics over many other countries is the movement and mobility of the robots used.

Commercial applications[edit]

Conceivable commercial applications of robots include any type of activity that a robot could do in the domestic or industrial field.

Researchers across Japan have unveiled increasingly sophisticated robots with different functions, including a talking office receptionist, a security guard and even a primary school teacher. The newest model of domestic helper, AppriAttenda, is developed by Toshiba. This is a robot that can fetch containers from a refrigerator by using its two arms and moves on wheels. The purpose in creating such robots is to make older people's lives easier when they have to manage alone. The robots could help them with basic tasks inside the house.

The Japanese scientists in robotics have also created the first robotic fashion model, the HRP-4C, a female-robot that is capable of strutting a catwalk, smiling, blinking, and pouting.

Fumio Miyazaki, an engineering science professor at the Toyonaka Campus of Osaka University, stated that Japanese scientists can provide thousands of humanoids that could be working alongside humans by the end of the 2020s, if that is what the society wants.

Japan has the most industrial robots, over a quarter of a million robots as an effort to reduce high labor costs and support further industrial mechanization. Japan wants robotics to be for their 21st century economy what automobiles were for the 20th.[1]

Robots are also seen as a solution to the declining birthrate and shrinking workforce, a great problem of the Japanese society. Although the number of workers that a robot could replace varies on the type of industry, a robot may do the job for several workers and can provide an answer on the nation's declining work force and will weigh heavily on future pension and health care programs.


Among Japan's oldest robot precursors are the karakuri ningyo, or mechanical dolls. During the Edo period (1603–1867), Takeda-za developed a mechanical-puppet theater that flourished in Osaka's Dotonbori district.[19] The Japanese craftsman Hisashige Tanaka, known as "Japan's Edison", created an array of extremely complex mechanical toys, some of which were capable of serving tea, firing arrows drawn from a quiver, or even painting a Japanese kanji character. The landmark text Karakuri Zui (Illustrated Machinery) was published in 1796.[20]

In 1928, the Gakutensoku robot was designed and constructed by biologist Makoto Nishimura.[21] A popular fictional robot was the cartoon character Astroboy, or Tetsuwan Atomu in Japan. The popular robot-hero, Astroboy, was created by Osamu Tezuka's imagination and is a famous Japanese sci-fi robot.

In the mid-20th century, Ichiro Kato professor of Waseda University studied humanoid robots. He initiated the WABOT project in 1967, and in 1972 completed the WABOT-1, the world's first full-scale humanoid intelligent robot. WABOT-1 had two arms, walked on two legs, and sees with two camera eyes.[22] It was thus the first android. Its limb control system allowed it to walk with the lower limbs, and to grip and transport objects with hands, using tactile sensors. Its vision system allowed it to measure distances and directions to objects using external receptors, artificial eyes and ears. And its conversation system allowed it to communicate with a person in Japanese, with an artificial mouth.[23][24][25] Japan has since been leading the field of robotics.[26]

In 1996, Honda announced the P2 humanoid robot after which a number of companies and institutes started to develop humanoid robots for many purposes.

The Japanese company Kawasaki Robotics started the commercial production of industrial robots over 40 years ago.[27]

Approximately 700,000 industrial robots were used all over the world in 1995, of which 500,000 operated in Japan.[28]

In 2012, between 1,235,000 and 1,500,000 industrial robots were in use.[29]

Japanese robotics companies[edit]

General robotics[edit]

Industrial robotics[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Thomas, Lisa (2009-08-03). "What's Behind Japan's Love Affair with Robots?". Time. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  2. ^ http://www.fujitsu-services.ae/about/rd/200506hoap-series.html
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2007-12-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ "Japan unveils willing dental patient—a robot". AFP. March 25, 2010.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2011-03-23.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
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  8. ^ http://twendyone.com/index_e.html
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  12. ^ http://www.toyota.co.jp/en/tech/p_mobility/i-real/index.html
  13. ^ "Murata Boy & Murata Girl description page". Murata Manufacturing. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  14. ^ http://www.enryu.jp/
  15. ^ http://www.kawada.co.jp/mechs/mk-II/index.html
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  17. ^ "Japan's latest supermodel--a robot". Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  18. ^ "What is Humanoid Robot?". Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  19. ^ http://int.kateigaho.com/spr05/robots.html
  20. ^ T. N. Hornyak (2006). Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots. Kodansha International.
  21. ^ "Japan's first-ever robot". Yomiuri.co.jp. Retrieved 2014-02-08.
  22. ^ http://www.humanoid.waseda.ac.jp/booklet/kato_2-j.html
  23. ^ "Historical Android Projects". androidworld.com.
  24. ^ Robots: From Science Fiction to Technological Revolution, page 130
  25. ^ Handbook of Digital Human Modeling: Research for Applied Ergonomics and Human Factors Engineering, Chapter 3, pages 1-2
  26. ^ Robotics and Mechatronics: Proceedings of the 4th IFToMM International Symposium on Robotics and Mechatronics, page 66
  27. ^ "Japan has long Robotics History". Archived from the original on 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  28. ^ "A (Social) History of Robots(and maybe some consequences of same)" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  29. ^ "2012: Second highest number of robots sold in 2012". www.ifr.org. Archived from the original on 2016-03-27.