AIST Stories No1

From AIST to the Innovative World20Robots working in the daily life of peopleNew international safety standards soughtIn Japan, decreasing birthrate and aging population have become social issues in recent years. The decline in the population of young people not only impacts the available labor force: there are also fears that there will be insufficient labor available for housework and care giving. One method anticipated to solve this problem is amplifying the power of humans and using personal care robots to substitute for humans in carrying out tasks.The HAL Robot Suit from CYBERDYNE that amplifies body movements and the Honda Walking Assist Device have already been showcased in the media. While both are in the experimental stage, they are seen as functioning to reduce the muscular burden accompanying care giving. However, their current performance levels are insufficient for use in real life situations. One particular issue is ensuring safety.As opposed to industrial robots working in factories where they are separated from humans and environments are standardized, personal care robots work in various environments, including residences, welfare facilities, and outdoors. For example, in everyday life, minor unexpected situations often occur, such as something falling down while walking, and signals from cellular telephones that become sources of interference. In response to these changes, robots themselves must ensure that their movements are stable, so as to not threaten the safety of humans. Moreover, those who operate the robots are not experienced engineers; rather they are numerous unspecified individuals. For these reasons, we require another standards that pay more attention to safety than the safety standards on industry robots.Moving forward, it is indispensable to prepare safety standards that will enable widespread adoption of personal care robots while simultaneously establishing an Personal care robots spread out as a “new infrastructure”Deputy Director, Intelligent Systems Research InstituteKohtaro Ohba AIST promotes the international safety standards on personal care robots! Personal care robots supporting an ageing societyAmplifying human power to reduce the muscular burden for caregiving, carrying out housework, and furthermore helping with maintaining and promoting human health. By establishing safety evaluation technology and its international safety standards on the personal care robots, practical robot usage will be realized. The day whereby we live together with robots, and appreciate the comfort and convenience is not far off. Into the futureAIST!Our life and society will change in this way!