Our flight out of Japan departed from Fukuoaka airport but prior to this we had a few days to explore the city. As Fukuoaka is a leading city for robotic technology and development, one of the recommended attractions is the constantly evolving Robosquare museum. We took a walk down to the Momochi district and decided to go and check the place out.
Robosquare is home to 200 robots and 70 different types of robot. On display are robots dating back from the 1980’s to the present day and guests are encouraged to interact with them. The first type of robot we encountered was Humanoid AIBO (Artificial Intelligence RoBOt) dog. This walking and talking robot was primarily designed as a robotic pet and can respond to its chosen name with a variety of emotions and functions.
We then came across two other types of robots. Firstly, we entertained ourselves with light sensitive robotic balls that propelled forward, backwards, left or right, depending on the direction of the light. We then met Paro who is a robotic seal that responds to being pet and stroked. The seal is actually a therapy robot which was given to retirement homes to try and draw lonely elderly people out of their depression and improve their mental wellbeing by giving them something to interact with.
Lastly, we met the all singing and dancing ‘Pepper’ robot. You will find the latter robot in shops all over Japan and they have been designed to interact with customers and provide information so you no longer have to ask human staff for help. The robot also has some special functions and can dance along to a variety of pieces of music including the Nutcracker and traditional Hungarian folk music. It was actually quite embarrassing that a robot was undoubtedly a better dancer than me.
So if you thought robots only existed in the Terminator films you would be very wrong. They are very much ‘alive and kicking’ in Japan. If you happen to be in Fukuoka make sure you give Robosquare a visit!