The East Japan Railway Company (JR-East) is hoping to introduce robots to its railway stations to assist passengers through the creation of JRE Robotics Station LLP, a company that will design robots to help travellers navigate train stations. JRE Robotics Station LLP will organize the needs and tasks of the JR East Group and will widely recruit robot technology and development partners for the resolution, and will also coordinate experiments at the "Smart Station Experiment Module" and actual field experiments.
In order to realize the "Medium- to long-term vision of technological innovation" by the JR East Group, the company is promoting research and development of service robots and will recruit outside technologies and development partners.
The goal is for the robots to guide customers who are unfamiliar to the railway and provide foreign language translation. The robots will also provide mobility support and support of handicapped persons and carrying baggage and also cleaning at station buildings, hotels etc. Security assistance at station premises, station buildings, hotels etc. and logistics support such as delivery within station premises could also be carried out by the robots.
The company will need to overcome technical issues of the service robots as there are many people using the station premises and station buildings which have large steps and slopes unlike airports or offices which are predominantly level. To solve the problems, control using sensors, networks and artificial intelligence is necessary
"I believe we can use robots to clean railway stations and provide customers with guidance information. In particular, robots are an effective way of compensating for manpower shortages and increasing productivity." says Tetsuro Tomita, president of East Japan Railway Company (JR-East).
Source and images: East Japan Railway Company