he 2021 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will include a number of robotic assistants that would have made the original Olympians in ancient Greece drop their laurel wreaths in shock.
Toyota and Panasonic unveiled a number of robotic helpers who will be joining the games and making 2021 the first “robotic” Olympic Games in history.
“The Tokyo 2020 Games are a unique opportunity for us to display Japanese robot technology,” Hirohisa Hirukawa, leader of the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project said back in 2019, before the Games were rescheduled to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This project will not simply be about exhibiting robots, but also about showcasing their practical real-life deployment helping people.”
But don’t worry — human athletes won’t have to compete with robots on the running track or in the swimming pool (yet). For now, robots will assist as “automated helpers,” including:
- Mascot Robots: Olympic Games mascots Miraitowa and Someity will smile, wave, and shake hands with athletes and audience members.
- T-HR3 Humanoid Robots: These robots are designed to be deployed to remote locations in Japan and will mirror the physical movements and broadcast the sounds produced by the Mascot Robots to help people in remote locations feel as though they are physically present at the games.
- FSR Field Support Robots: The four-wheeled robots will perform tasks such as retrieving hammers, shotputs, and javelins during the throwing events.
- T-TRI Remote Location Robots: Telepresence robots with a 360° camera and large display screen will allow fans who are not allowed to attend this year’s Games to converse with athletes and other attendees.
- DSR Delivery Support Robots: These robots will deliver light goods such as drinks, snacks, and merchandise.
- HSR Human Support Robots: Utilizing mobility technology, these robots will assist audience members in wheelchairs and act as ushers, guiding audience members to their seats.
- Power-Assist Suits: Robotic exoskeletons worn by workers on site at the Games will help employees load and unload heavy items in the Olympic village.
It will be interesting to see whether having robots at the Olympics will be an experience unique to Tokyo, or if robots will be here to stay for all future Olympic events around the world.