"The white zone is for loading and unloading only"... First there was ASIMO and a few robotic pets, then a toilet-cleaning robot that looks like an overgrown ladybug. Now there's "RoboPorter", currently being tested for a few hours each day at Kita Kyushu airport in southwestern Japan.
"Please state the nature of the transportational emergency" Yes indeed, robots have come a long way since the days of Robby the Robot and "Danger, Will Robinson!" Yaskawa Electric's RoboPorter has a much more limited conversing ability, though, limited to discussing where to take your suitcases. What's more, RoboPorter does what it's told without giving any backtalk ala Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein ("You take the blonde, I'll take the one in the turban"). Plus, carrying fainted Anne Francises (Francisi?) is optional.
"Bite my shiny metal... I mean where to, sir?" OK, enough oddly relevant TV & movie quotes, let's get down to the business of bag-bringing from baggage carousel to bus stop. RoboPorter does it quickly and quietly - well, mostly quietly, it's said to have a metallic voice tone and assumedly speaks only Japanese. Suddenly those traditional, non-robotic rolling rental carts don't look so bad... but if you DO speak and read Japanese, and can type it onto RoboPorter's control screen, you've just saved yourself lugging up to 110 lbs. of baggage across a busy airport concourse.
"I'm sorry, but I'm not programmed for that particular function..." RoboPorter appears to be a free service and, as with most Japanese services, there's no tipping required. Tell that to your non-robotic rolling rental cart... then again, acting suspiciously in airports is not recommended these days. Unless you're 4-ft tall and green, that is. (Walyou, via Digital World Tokyo)
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