JR East sets up new company to help make its robot-filled vision of the future a reality.
On July 5 East Japan Railways announced the formation of JRE Robotics Station. While that may sound like a special train station for robots to use as they make their way around the country, the truth is a little different, though no less cool.
Despite the name, Japan Railways does more than operate a train network. The company is also part of the property management, hospitality, and technology industries, and JRE Robotics Station is a new company that JR East has set up to give an extra push to its robotics development projects. In particular, JRE Robotics Station will be focusing on robots with one of four functional classifications.
The company will be designing guidance robots to help travelers find their way around stations and get to their trains. In addition to helping Japanese locals, these robots will be equipped with multi-language capabilities to assist Japan’s increasing number of foreign visitors.
Also on the to-design list are self-piloting robots that can carry travelers’ luggage for them, although their primary purpose will be to assist travelers with disabilities, as opposed to acting like robot bellhops for those without such conditions.
JRE Robotics Station will also be looking into creating automatons to handle cleaning duties, as well as security robots that, according to concept art from the company, will be able to detect shoplifters.
▼ RoboCop’s Japanese cousin looks pretty adorable.
With JR East also managing a number of shopping centers and hotels, such robots would be deployed not just within train stations, but in other JR properties as well. At the moment, no timetable has been announced for the introduction of the still-in-development machines, so we may have to wait a while until we actually see robots popping out of the walls to help us buy our train tickets.