In 2020, millions of people will be traveling to Tokyo, Japan, to watch the world’s best athletes compete in the Summer Olympic Games, otherwise known as Tokyo 2020. As with every Olympic Games, the host city is given seven years to prepare for the biggest sports event in the world. No sweat, right? Not for Tokyo, at least, because they’ve got a few tricks—or robots—up their sleeves. That’s right, we said robots! This month, the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games announced the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project, where robots will make their debut as helpers at the Games. Their main jobs will be to carry items, deliver food, provide information to visitors, and guide attendees to their seats. It takes all hands (even robot hands!) on deck to make sure that the Games are an enjoyable experience for everyone, especially those who are in wheelchairs or have difficulties navigating around event venues. The world, after all, is watching, and Japan is taking this opportunity to introduce their culture and innovative technologies to the world.
What will happen to the robots after the Olympics? Well, according to the leader of the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project, Hirohisa Hirukawa, “This project will not simply be about exhibiting robots, but showcasing their practical real-life deployment helping people.” In other words, these robots aren’t just for show; they’re going to make life a little easier for those who need extra help around the house. It makes sense that Japanese companies have been working on these robots since a third of Japan’s population is considered an aging population (or those older than sixty). The hope is that these robots will help support this population with day-to-day activities so that they can maintain their independence. Oh, robots … what can’t they do?