According to The Asahi Shimbun recently, a start-up firm here is planning to construct a futuristic “city of robots” that relies on robotic and cybernetic technologies to assist with the daily lives of humans.
Cybernic City is the brainchild of Cyberdyne Inc. President Yoshiyuki Sankai, a professor at the University of Tsukuba, known for developing the robot suit HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) power assist device for applications in health care and welfare.
Cybernic City will be built in Tsukuba, where the company has its headquarters, and will feature a research-and-development center, senior citizen housing and other facilities on 8.4 hectares of land.
Cyberdyne envisions the site working on everything from developing robots to assist with everyday living to testing them and putting them to actual use in society. Cyberdyne's idea is to make the zone a model for the cities of the future.
Cybernic City is derived from "cybernics," an academic field of study espoused by Sankai that combines robotics, neuroscience and other disciplines.
The site is on land owned by Ibaraki Prefecture adjacent to a large commercial complex near Kenkyu-gakuen Station on the Tsukuba Express line.
At the end of last year, Cyberdyne concluded a provisional agreement to purchase the property for 6.6 billion yen (US$54.68 million).
Under the company's plan, it will build a hospital, as well as homes for senior citizens equipped with living assistance technologies. Cybernic City, where robots will come and go, will also include a plaza, a park and other amenities.
Cyberdyne plans to partner with private companies, as well as to invite entrepreneurs from Japan and abroad, to make the zone a place that creates new industries by using the cutting-edge technology of cybernics.
In addition to applications in the fields of medicine and welfare, where the technology has already been put to practical use, Cyberdyne envisions its robots finding uses in such industries as distribution and agriculture.
"There are many ways we could deploy the technology. For example, we could partner with commercial facilities to have robots ship products or they could help aging farmers grow their crops," Sankai said. "We want to make visible progress in the project by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In the future, we would like to make this site into the world's state-of-the-art model for placing robots in society, where people can come and see the future."
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