Defeating Pandemic Barriers, Japan Felicitates Students Using Robots

by April 9, 2020

Robots

The impediments induced by COVID-19 has undoubtedly created havoc across nations, however, it cannot be denied that the coronavirus is pushing some great innovative endeavors at the forefront. The interesting applications of disruptive technologies are one such captive sight to look out for. Where artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cloud computing, and significant others are helping stay put the lockdown well, robots have been deployed on field of action to provide physical assistance to doctors and nurses working late hours to serve COVID-19 patients. For example, one team of robots temporarily cared for patients in a makeshift hospital in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the COVID-19 outbreak began. Meals were served, temperatures taken and communications handled by machines, one of them named “Cloud Ginger” by its maker CloudMinds, which has operations in Beijing and California.

“It provided useful information, conversational engagement, entertainment with dancing, and even led patients through stretching exercises,” CloudMinds president Karl Zhao said of the humanoid robot.

“The smart field hospital was completely run by robots.” A small medical team remotely controlled the field hospital robots. Patients wore wristbands that gathered blood pressure and other vital data.

Besides, according to a Reuters report, spring graduation ceremonies in Japan have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, but students at one school were able to attend remotely by controlling avatar robots while logged on at home.

The robots, dubbed “Newme” by developer ANA Holdings, were dressed in graduation caps and gowns for the ceremony at the Business Breakthrough University in Tokyo. The robots’ “faces” were tablets that displayed the faces of the graduates, who logged on at home and controlled the robots via their laptops.

One by one, the robots motored toward the podium to receive their diplomas. School staff clapped and said “congratulations!” as University President Kenichi Ohmae placed the diplomas on a rack mounted on the robot’s midsection.

“I think this is truly a novel experience to receive a certificate in a public area while I am in a private space,” Kazuki Tamura said via his computer avatar when receiving his master’s degree diploma.

The university hopes its approach can be adopted by other schools looking to avoid mass gatherings. Reflecting the human world, however, the school limited the ceremony to just four graduates so that the robots could practice social distancing amid the pandemic.

Moreover, one of the unnamed students said in a statement, “When I enrolled, I never thought I would operate my avatar and attend the graduation ceremony. However, receiving a diploma in public is a novel experience.”

The Newme telepresence robots aren’t just useful for attending graduations, they also come in handy if you want to travel without leaving home.

Last year, All Nippon Airways revealed that it would use Newme telepresence robots to allow people to experience faraway places without having to travel there in person. The robots would transmit high-definition 2K videos that let its human users see and interact with the bot’s surroundings.

Newme robots have also helped people with debilitating paralysis to return to the workplace as robot waiters in Japanese cafes.