Japan is giving the green light to self-driving delivery robots to hit the streets to combat labor shortages and rural isolation. With almost 30% of its citizens over 65 and many living in rural areas without easy access to necessities, Japan is facing a tough time. To make things even harder, there are labour shortages in cities and new rules that limit truck driver overtime, making it difficult for businesses to keep up with deliveries. This is where self-driving robots come in, offering a solution to these problems.
Dai Fujikawa, an engineer at Panasonic testing delivery robots in Tokyo and Fujisawa, sees a future challenge with the shortage of transportation workers. He’s hoping the robots will help ease the labor crunch by stepping in when needed. ZMP, a Japanese robotics company, is teaming up with big players like Japan Post Holdings to run their own delivery robot trials in Tokyo.
Its ‘DeliRo’ robot has demonstrated the ability to navigate around pedestrians and deliver snacks in a busy street outside Tokyo. When obstructed by pedestrians, the robot displays an animated teary eye. So far, the introduction of delivery robots has received a positive response from the people in Japan.
According to Panasonic, its “Hakobo” robot has the capability to perceive obstacles and make independent decisions on when to turn and stop. Additionally, the Fujisawa control center continuously monitors the robot and is equipped with cameras that will automatically trigger an alert if the robot becomes stuck or obstructed.
Having robots to deliver basic necessities to people is the most Japanese thing I’ve heard this year and I’m all for it. I can’t imagine having a robot delivering my McDonald’s delivery in Singapore though. Not yet, at least.