22 Jul 2019
The Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) has unveiled four new futuristic robots which will be deployed to assist spectators, athletes and officials at competition venues and to relay sound, images and physical feedback from venues to those watching remotely. The Tokyo 2020 Robot Project aims to ensure the Tokyo 2020 Games will be the most innovative ever, with the new robots expected to provide visiting fans and those watching remotely with an experience they are unlikely to forget.
The Robot Project will help realise one of Tokyo 2020’s core visions – “Unity in Diversity” – aiming to foster a welcoming environment for all athletes and visitors, and those unable to attend venues who want to experience the Games remotely at other locations in Japan.
The new models include Tokyo 2020 mascot-type robots – Miraitowa and Someity – developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation, an industry expert in the field of robot technology which is providing support for the project. Tokyo 2020 mascot-type robots will welcome athletes and guests at Games venues and other Games-related locations with human-like movements, such as shaking hands and waving, and with a variety of facial expressions. Cameras mounted on the robots’ foreheads will allow them to recognise when people are nearby and to react to them. Tokyo 2020 and Toyota are additionally discussing a number of ways for the mascot robots to make it easier for children to experience the Games, and to make this experience more enjoyable.
Another model – the T-HR3 humanoid robot – will transmit sounds and images from Games locations to partner robots at remote locations. Tokyo 2020 is also considering having them mirror each other’s physical movements; this will allow those at remote locations who interact with the T-HR3 humanoid robots to feel as if they are physically present at Games-related locations.
A third model – the T-TR1 robot – is a virtual mobility robot developed by the Toyota Research Institute in the United States. It will be equipped with a camera atop a large, almost life-size display. By projecting an image of a user from a remote location, the robot will help that person feel more physically present at the robot’s location. The T-TR1 robot will give people who are unable to be physically present at Games-related locations a chance to attend virtually, with an on-screen facility allowing conversations between the two locations.
Completing the robot line-up will be the Field Support Robot (FSR), which will be equipped with an automatic driving functionality that will allow it to assist at throwing events at the Olympic Stadium. The robots will determine the optimal path to follow when retrieving items such as hammers or javelins thrown by athletes, guiding staff along paths that avoid obstacles. This will help reduce both the amount of time needed to retrieve items and the amount of human support required at events. Tokyo 2020 and Toyota will be working with the International Association of Athletics Federations in developing the FSR for the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Note: some aspects of these robots’ designs may be changed.