Robovie the robot is the newest employee at a Japanese store whose duties entail ensuring customers wear their face masks and practice social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
This robot was developed by Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) which is based in Kyoto, Japan. Robovie guides the customers around the sales floor of the soccer team Cerezo Osaka. It uses its camera and 3D laser beam technology to detect the person that is not wearing face masks or abiding by the social distancing rules.
Its deployment is still a trial run that started on the second week of November and will run through the end of the month. With the growing cases of COVID-19 in Japan, they hope that Robovie could help prevent further transmission of coronavirus to other people.
Mask Up Dear Customers Robovie Is Here
Last week, a trial run employed a robot to be the newest staff in a shop in Japan to make sure that its customers are following proper health protocols, such as wearing face masks and practicing social distancing. It is one of Japan's ways to prepare for the third wave of the pandemic.
The ATR developed Robovie to politely ask customers to cover up and intervenes to those who fail to follow social distancing protocols, The Guardian reported. ATR hopes that Robovie could be of help in reducing the close contact among shoppers of the club shop of Cerezo Osaka, a professional soccer team.
They believe that non-abiding customers would feel less embarrassed if it is a robot that will ask them to cover up rather than by a fellow human being.
It is equipped with pre-loaded information about the layout of the shop and uses a camera and sensors to observe the movements of the shoppers inside. Its lasers are used to measure the distance between them, kind of like how robotic vacuums navigate themselves on the floor.
In times when it was not enforcing social distancing and wearing of face masks in the shop, it becomes a guide to the customers around the shop.
Although Japan has been doing fairly well compared to other countries, a recent rise of their daily COVID-19 cases has prompted calls to implement new measures to prevent hospitals and the healthcare system in general from being overrun by patients especially that winter is fast approaching.
Japan's assistive robots
As robots continue to show their use in medicine and healthcare, developers realized that there is a need to switch from "system design" to "service design." Japan is one of the leading countries that have started to invest in assistive robots to improve healthcare services.
Robovie is just an example of these investments as they also planned to employ around 80,000 robots as a volunteer force in this year's canceled Olympics and Paralympics. They will work alongside humans to work as guides for people to the next event and work as a translator for foreigners.
Japan expects to see an increase in the market for its healthcare robots called "carerobos" which have since tripled from 2015 until 2020. According to a study, one-third of care home residents become more active and autonomous when these robots were used.