Panasonic is testing a new robotic transportation system in Tokyo. It consists of three electric self-propelled chairs with a programmed "Follow the Leader".
As technology improves, robotic systems are increasingly penetrating our daily lives. But for this integration to work, they need to learn how to function in a chaotic, unpredictable human world. This requires a tremendous amount of research and development - as well as field testing.
Panasonic is currently being tested at the Takanawa indoor train station in Minato, Tokyo. Their goal is to study how well robots can navigate and operate in an open environment. The tests will run until September.
As planned by Panasonic engineers, the head robot will be controlled by a station employee, and the second and third ones will independently follow the leader. At the same time, the developers call the most important function of new robots the ability to automatically brake. If an obstacle appears on the way of the “caravan”, the whole trio will stop in time, and when the obstacle disappears, they will continue to move.
Panasonic's ultimate goal is to develop an autonomous people transportation system that does not require human operator control at all.