KEY POINTS

  • Robovie, the 'robot clerk', is on trial run at a club shop for a month
  • The developers of Robovie aim to reduce human contact and replace store staff
  • Robovie is the latest addition to Japan’s service robot industry

Putting technology to its best use in the time of a pandemic, a Japanese shop has employed a robot clerk to ensure that people wear masks and practice socially distancing.

Called Robovie, the robot was developed by The Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan, reported The Guardian.

Apparently, Robovie calls out customers who fail to follow COVID- 19 protocol. It can recognize when someone does not wear a mask or when a person fails to comply with the social distancing measures while queueing up. Robovie can also issue a warning to people who flout the protocol.

The trial run of the robot clerk started a week ago at a club shop of Cerezo Osaka, a professional football team in Japan. After a trial run for at least one month, the developers of Robovie hope to successfully implement the innovation in other shops in Japan.

Robovie was first inputted with the layout of the shop and has an inbuilt camera and sensors. It observes customer movements and measures distances using lasers as it patrols in the store, reported, Japantoday.

The Robovie developers envision replacing the staff in stores with robots. They believe that this can reduce the spread of the virus with reduced human contact. The developers of Robovie also feel that people would feel less embarrassed when a robot asks them to cover up with a mask.

According to the developers, Robovie was not designed with the sole purpose of ensuring social distancing protocols. It can also help customers as they guide through the shop.

It is programmed to recognize all the items on sale and can ask customers if they need any help in identifying things they wanted to buy.

connection Robovie was not just designed for ensuring social distancing but can guide a customer inside the shop. Photo: pixabay

Robovie is just the latest addition to Japan’s burgeoning service robot industry. The pandemic brought in a sharp increase in the sale of “healing robots” developed by Groove X Inc. and Sony Corp.’s “Aibo robotic dogs” in Japan. These robots were usually gifted to older parents by children, as a substitute for physical human contact and as a way to cope with isolation during the pandemic, reported TRT world.

There were also reports of Japanese stores testing out robots, capable of stocking shelves in two major convenient stores in September. The robot named ‘Model T’ was designed to pick up, grasp, place several shapes and sizes in different locations, reported Futurism. They were introduced to reduce the labor shortage in convenience stores.