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Japan rolls out 'humble and lovable' delivery robots

40 Comments
By Natsuko FUKUE and Tomohiro OSAKI

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40 Comments
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ZMP has partnered with behemoths such as Japan Post Holdings in its trials of delivery robots in Tokyo.

The all-weather mail-carrier, the cashier who bags your groceries and gives you change, the server at the family restaurant have all been automated or outsourced to the self-service (but inflationary costs will still be passed on to the consumer despite the savings to business).

Who is next, the hosts of baton waving ojiisans at construction sites?

Despite its image Japan is not very ready for the wave of automation in its socioeconomic and political systems.

4 ( +12 / -8 )

"Japan loves robots."

Yes, everybody wants to be like one.

-7 ( +23 / -30 )

Anything to avoid non Japanese from performing these jobs. They and their families would contribute more to struggling small towns than these silly toys will.

-10 ( +16 / -26 )

"Excuse me, coming through,

Wow, they programed it to recognize English speaking people that are in it's path and how to use idiomatic English as well.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Anything to avoid non Japanese from performing these jobs. They and their families would contribute more to struggling small towns than these silly toys will

Right, consider what you said here a moment. It is more economical to have these robots doing this work than to pay a "human", foreigner or otherwise. Even with maintenance costs included, there is no need to pay for health insurance, no worries about "overtime", no pension, no vacation time, no sick days, never missing a day, and no need to worry about having to worry about any cultural misunderstandings or worse.

Seems you would rather have someone, particularly a foreigner, doing literal minimum wage work, than this robot.

Work smarter, not harder! Leave these mundane tasks to technology, and put "human" workers in positions that they are needed more!

-4 ( +8 / -12 )

Coming soon … kids transitioning to robots. “Robophobia” becomes a household word.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

It looks a bit small. Plus I get stuff I need to sign for most days. I would prefer parcels containing stuff worth hundreds of pounds to be in the custody of people, not a Tonka toy with a smiley face.

It wouldn't get up my front steps. And how exactly does it stick your post through your letter box?

It would struggle in the UK, where cars commonly park across half of the pavement. Incidentally, Japan's pavements are not its greatest assets. Plenty of trip hazards. DeliRo may need caterpillar tracks.

It's about time Japan Post got its act together sending parcels abroad from Japan again with a full service. Covid is over. No excuses any more.

5 ( +10 / -5 )

The robot pulls up outside your home and notifies you on your phone that you have a delivery.

It's about time Japan Post got its act together sending parcels abroad from Japan again with a full service. Covid is over. No excuses any more.

A major problem during the covid. I needed to send packages to the US/UK.

You can send via EMS but is now more complicated and requires online registration and printing of documents. You can also send by sea mail but too slowly. The PO does not have any planes. I don't see any other changes soon.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Is this a pleasure model?

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Oh dear

-9 ( +7 / -16 )

... Sorry, loveable?

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Wouldn't last five minutes in the UK. With a face like that, he's asking for a spanking.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Just what Japan needs. More actual robots. As if we don't already deal with those on a daily basis who pretend to be humans

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

Michael Machida

... Sorry, loveable?

I mean....give it some time! Some people will soon find out the hard way it isn't what they thought "loveable" meant.

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

part of an experiment businesses hope will tackle labour shortages and rural isolation.

How about trying the experiment of offering jobs with decent pay and working conditions?

The only reason there are labour shortages is that many companies only offer the bare minimum yet expect the world from their employees.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Each successful delivery will be accompanied by the theme song Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto. The band Styx will make a fortune in royalties

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Even with maintenance costs included, there is no need to pay for health insurance, no worries about "overtime", no pension, no vacation time, no sick days, never missing a day, and no need to worry about having to worry about any cultural misunderstandings or worse.

And leave all these benefits for the overpaid executives pretending to be working and shuffling papers at thier desks.

While masses of capable people are shut out of entry level jobs or anything that can provide a living wage in this time of radical change.

One of the dangers of this coming automation is that it is co-opted by crony corporate apologists like above.

It can be a net gain for the public but only if such vested interests are cut out.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

While masses of capable people are shut out of entry level jobs or anything that can provide a living wage in this time of radical change.

What "masses of capable people" are you referring to HERE in Japan? If you haven't noticed there is a literal glut of "entry" level positions available now, throughout this country. Only problem is they dont provide a "living wage".

I also dont see how replacing a robot with a human, in this line of work, provides "entry" to something better and higher paying.

Unless of course you meant "entry" for foreign workers.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Japanese companies will do anything to avoid paying a living wage to a human employee, eh?!

-6 ( +9 / -15 )

If you haven't noticed there is a literal glut of "entry" level positions available now, throughout this country. Only problem is they dont provide a "living wage".

You correctly identified the problem. Now the solution?

Automation displacing workers requires capital and if the system of taxation, remuneration and benefits is skewed to a bloated bureaucratic, executive, rentier capital rich class and masses are shut out.

Japan is almost a textbook example and probably only the vested interests in such areas as construction keep many immigrants at construction sites and doddering seniors with batons employed.

Mail carrier used to be a stable, well compensated and pensioned job.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I saw the other day that Jolly pasta had like 3 of those remore waitresses, yet they were still hiring for waiters. Is this gonna be the new norm?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Robotics sould be used for space exploration to places where humans simply cannot exist due to environmental factors thats all. Should not be used where humans need to interact with other humans. Dealing with a phone is an annoyance enough dealing with that would be a nightmare!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As per Juval Harari of the WEF, computer algorithms, robotics, and AI will replace people and will create a useless class. He further said people have become useless, obsolete and redundant and can be easily discarded.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Reminds me of a hitchhiking robot that travelled Europe and Canada for two years, but was destroyed on day one in the US…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HitchBOT

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As per Juval Harari of the WEF, computer algorithms, robotics, and AI will replace people

Israeli histoian Yuval Noah Harari (I think you are referring to) is talking about a technological singularity and such displacement will only be solved by socioeconomic reforms correcting institutional inequalities (like with privatization of JP under the LDP)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So does that mean if I say “excuse me, coming through” you have to get out of my way!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Mail carrier used to be a stable, well compensated and pensioned job.

You also forget, or probably didnt know, as you used this as an example, that a mail carrier here in Japan used to be a "komuin", but since JP went private, they now have a bottom line, and by the way, mail carriers here are still "well compensated" and "pensioned" positions, for fulltime hires.

Have no idea what country you are referring to here.

Oh and by the way, there are plenty of folks who would quit their jobs in a heart beat to work at Japan Post

The average mail carrier gross salary in Japan is ¥5,142,131 or an equivalent hourly rate of ¥2,472.

https://www.salaryexpert.com/salary/job/mail-carrier/japan#:~:text=%C2%A591%2C530%20(JPY)%2Fyr&text=The%20average%20mail%20carrier%20gross,and%20anonymous%20employees%20in%20Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I very much doubt this is to fight labor shortage, but more about marketing "cool" Japan and kawaii stuff to bring in more tourists (both local and international).

1 ( +4 / -3 )

AnonymousToday  07:50 am JST

Coming soon … kids transitioning to robots.

Gender fluid robots LOL !

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

@GBR48 "It would struggle in the UK, where cars commonly park across half of the pavement." It would struggle in the UK because it would be vandalized, taken apart, and burnt within 24 hours.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

As of now, Japanese cyclists have trouble avoiding people, bushes, trees and bollards. The other day I saw some genius whizzing along, on his smartphone of course, and go straight into a bollard which has been there for at least 30 years. God knows how many of these little wheely robots are going to be written off.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

You also forget, or probably didnt know, as you used this as an example, that a mail carrier here in Japan used to be a "komuin", but since JP went private, they now have a bottom line, and by the way, mail carriers here are still "well compensated" and "pensioned" positions, for fulltime hires.

Stating the obvious as if it some great revelation when my post had nothing to do with the previous status of postal carriers as bureaucratic officials in your Romaji.

The point which was quite clear was that automated mail carriers threaten such positions, whether in Japan or abroad. Though I reckon there would be more pushback by unionized forces abroad than here.

Have no idea what country you are referring to here.

It often seems to be your case.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/10/30/editorials/japan-posts-murky-privatization/

Even before the introduction of this cute robot the LDP has been angling to exploit Japan Post assets to crony exploitation.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Garthgoyle,

You are spot as usual.

Hi-tech Japan is a thing of the past.

We take a number two while seating on a heated toilet seat only to freeze in the rest of the house.

in most developed countries we don't need heated toilet seats since the rest of the house is not just heated but insulated as well.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Stating the obvious as if it some great revelation when my post had nothing to do with the previous status of postal carriers as bureaucratic officials in your Romaji.

If you actually knew what you were talking about, this might have been humorous. Your assertion in the post I was replying to was:

Mail carrier used to be a stable, well compensated and pensioned job.

And your response here, that I quoted above, just further reinforces your stating your obvious ignorance about what a "komuin" is too. Not all komuin are bureaucratic officials, unless you think teachers, police, fire fighters, doctors, nurses, and a host of others are as well. And if you do, you really do not know what you are talking about.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

As of now, Japanese cyclists have trouble avoiding people, bushes, trees and bollards. The other day I saw some genius whizzing along, on his smartphone of course, and go straight into a bollard which has been there for at least 30 years. God knows how many of these little wheely robots are going to be written off.

The first time I went to Osaka I stepped out of a restaurant after dinner, turned around and a cyclist zoomed half an inch from me on a city sidewalk going full speed and completely silently. If I had stepped a tiny bit farther he would have crashed headlong into me.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The obsession with robots to cure society’s problems continues. I predict thefts.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

A Tofu restaurant in town uses wheeled robots to deliver food to the tables. It has only been a few months since the first time that we saw these. They were a surprising anomaly at first, but now we take them in stride.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It look like a person is inside in the right corner,if you look closely

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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