According to The Nikkei Asian Review, one robot can use a toilet brush to scrub porcelain bowls all by itself. Another lets humans work on faraway assembly lines with fine motor skills, thanks to virtual reality gloves.
Avatars, or remotely controlled robots, are gaining traction as the COVID-19 pandemic turns even the most mundane tasks into risky undertakings.
The machines have mostly handled less-tactile functions until now, such as communications, monitoring and transportation. But Japanese developers are leveraging their strengths to take the technology to another level.
Mira Robotics carried out tests this March with its toilet-cleaning robot in collaboration with western Japan's Oita Prefecture. The robot can work on its own or via remote control.
The robot adroitly handled the toilet brush. Human staffers needed only check monitors and intervene remotely if necessary.
Janitorial crews stand to spend less time cleaning the restroom, lowering their risk of infection. The Kawasaki-based company has also developed a robot whose arms can emit ultraviolet light to sterilize doorknobs and other surfaces.
Meltin MMI, headquartered in Tokyo, is developing an industrial robot whose arms can be remotely controlled by humans wearing interface gloves.
The newest version of its Meltant robot, unveiled in late March, can handle power tools with a human's fine touch. Meltin plans tests at construction sites and plants. The avatar can be operated remotely in places as far-flung as the U.S. or Abu Dhabi.
Sony and airline group ANA Holdings said that they have agreed to jointly develop avatars through group companies.
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