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Creating a Robot-Friendly Environment: Joint Research by Tokyu Land, Tokyu Community, SoftBank, and Nikken Sekkei

Tokyu Land Corporation, Tokyu Community Corporation, SoftBank, and Nikken Sekkei Ltd. have announced the results of their joint research project to create a robot-friendly environment known as “Robofure.”

The initiative, part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s “2022 Innovative Robot R&D Infrastructure Development Project,” has identified issues affecting robot operations and proposed solutions from the perspectives of facilities, people, and robots.

As Japan faces a labor shortage due to an aging population and declining birthrate, there is an increasing need for service robots in various facilities.

The project focused on establishing a Robofure environment in the Tokyo Port City Takeshiba Office Tower, which Tokyu Land Corporation manages. The study used the “Robofure Level” evaluation index to evaluate the facility and propose measures for robot implementation.

The identified problems were broadly categorized into architecture (physical environment) and operation (running inside the building).

Proposed solutions were evaluated based on ease of adoption from the facility side (e.g., eliminating steps and securing space), the robot side (e.g., whistles and adjusting route settings), and the human (operation) side (e.g., limiting travel area and setting operation rules).

A significant challenge was to ensure safe coexistence between humans and robots.

The research group conducted demonstration tests to avoid human-robot collisions around corners and confirmed practical countermeasure proposals.

By synthesizing countermeasure proposals from different perspectives, the project aims to facilitate the introduction of robots even in buildings where physical environment changes are complex.

Plans include further development of this initiative and establishing guidelines to improve cost-effectiveness and reduce barriers to robotic deployment.

The collaborating companies and other organizations, and stakeholders will continue to work toward realizing a robot-friendly environment.

By standardizing the specifications and operation of robot-free buildings, the project aims to promote using robots in various facilities, address labor shortages, and improve overall efficiency.

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