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Japan's disaster-response robots could save lives in the future

By Chester Labaco & Alvin Soon - on 21 Dec 2015, 10:28am

Japan's disaster-response robots could save lives in the future

Photo: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE via The Straits Times.

Looking more like Chappie than Evangelions, Japan’s disaster-response robots could save lives in the near future.

Yesterday in Tokyo, Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Development Organization (NEDO) demonstrated a pair of these two-legged disaster relief robots at the International Robot Exhibition.

The life-size HRP-2 (Humanoid Robotics Project) Kai walked along a narrow path and opened a door to check for fire. Jaxon, another life-size robot developed by the University of Tokyo, walked and turned on a sprinkler valve to extinguish the fire.

Apparently, Yutaka Izubuchi, the mechanical designer on the Japanese anime series Patlabor, was commissioned to design the look of the HRP-2, which is why it seems to have a passing resemblance to the AV-98.

The HRP-2 (left), and the AV-98 from Patlabor (right).

The two robots are developed to operate in harsh conditions, as Japan is prone to natural disasters, and robots may be able to do work in dangerous places that humans can’t go. Robots were used by the emergency response team at Fukushima, when radiation levels from the damaged nuclear plant were too high for humans to enter.

All we can say is: Patlabors. Make it happen, Japan.

Source: The Straits Times, Japan Times.