Japanese robotics companies are testing autonomous delivery robots to address a shortage of delivery workers, while hoping to eventually use the robots to help seniors in depopulated rural regions access goods.
DeliRO robots deployed by Tokyo-based robotics company ZMP are remotely monitored by people ready to intervene when necessary; they sport large eyes that can look forlorn if pedestrians are in their way.
ZMP's Hisashi Taniguchi said the robots must be "humble and lovable" so humans will trust them.
Revised traffic laws will allow delivery robots to travel streets across Japan starting in April. Yutaka Uchimura at Japan's Shibaura Institute of Technology said traffic rules set a maximum speed of six kilometers (four miles) per hour for the robots, making the chances of injurious collision with them "relatively small."
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