Makuhari Messe, Chiba
Once this was a low lying delta area. As Tokyo expanded, land reclamation process for real estate development started. Residential Urayasu, leisure park Kasai Rinkai koen and Disneyland came up by the sea shore between Tokyo and Chiba. Along this line the latest development to come up is Makuhari, a vast new planned area with convention centers, shopping malls and man made beaches. Costco the American shopping chain has a branch here. Aeon shopping mall occupies several blocks. The beach has hosted the international dare devil Red Bull air race recently. But behind all this, the region is known for Makuhari Messe, the vast modern permanent international exhibition and convention center. Messe has been home to popular events like Tokyo Motor show and Tokyo Robot show.
Japan has been a leader in development of robots. Toyota is well known for the efficient use of man and robots in its assembly line. Robots are also being used as companion to the elderly. Pepper the humanoid robot interacts with shoppers in SoftBank stores. Even there is this Robot restaurant in Shinjuku popular with tourists. So in this country the Robot show will naturally be a huge draw.
So SEATEC mega robot show in Makuhari is not surprisingly quite popular. The robot show at CEATEC this year unveiled several demos of robots using advanced artificial intelligence to participate in human activities.
A very popular spot was one where a Robot was playing table tennis with a Human counterpart.
Fitted with a camera and a mechanical hand holding the bat, the robot was calculating the movement of the ball, the best angle to strike back and the force with which to strike it back onto opponent on the other side of the net. All this in real time!!!
This kind of advanced human interaction was also evident in another popular demo wherein a robot receptionist made to look like a real human being was introducing a product. This was as close as one could get to a creation like that of professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, world wide known for his humanoid robots. The facial skin, eye and lip
movements, everything looked very much human like.
Another demo for a Google-glass like product, though much limited in functionality, proved popular. For trying out this glass people happily stood in queue for upwards of 40 minutes. Some well-known under evaluation development products were also there such as Honda Uni Cub. One element missing was probably the Google self driving cars, though one is not sure whether it should feature in annual Auto show or in this Robots show. Let’s wait and see…