Japan’s industry ministry launches an initiative that will test ways to create robot-friendly environments
With an aim to improve productivity and mitigate chronic labour shortages in sectors such as retail and logistics, about two dozen major Japanese companies will join hands to help workplaces effortlessly accommodate robots, reported Nikkei Asia.
Japan’s industry ministry coordinated the public-private Robot Revolution & Industrial IoT initiative, which will test ways to create robot-friendly environments.
Such approaches can include changing the shapes of objects to make them easier to grab or setting common telecommunication standards.
Aeon, Japan’s largest retailer, and convenience store giant Seven & i Holdings are expected to join the project, along with companies namely Panasonic, East Japan Railway, Kewpie, and Mitsubishi Estate.
Typically, the adoption of robots in Japanese corporations is confined to the manufacturing sector.
Industries such as retail are lagging, but robots could be useful in these fields to stock shelves, arrange food in containers at production facilities, and give directions.
Retailers will develop a shared database of product images that robots will use to identify products across various settings. Supermarket operators and big convenience store chains like 7-Eleven, Lawson, and Family Mart, have plans to participate.
However, specifications and other standards tend to be inconsistent as robots in Japan are designed to match a user’s preference.
Therefore, optimum specifications and standards will be determined, with the results aimed at building a welcoming operational environment.
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