Toshiba created a very realistic looking android named Junko Chihira to work in a new tourist information center in Japan.
The bot can speak Japanese, Chinese, and English and made her debut a few weeks ago in Aqua City Odaiba, a shopping center on Tokyo’s waterfront, according to a press release. Currently, Junko Chihira is greeting visitors as they walk in, but in December, the android will be able to provide tourists with information on events occurring in the area.
Junko Chihira is the successor to another Toshiba android named Aiko Chihira, who served as a receptionist in a department store in Japan in April. Aiki Chihira was created using technology developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a robotics researcher at Osaka University in Suita, Japan, according to a YouTube video.
Like Aiki Chihira, Junko Chihira can so far only respond with scripted, pre-set speech. But Junko Chihira will gain speech recognition capabilities by 2017 so that it can respond to tourists’ questions.
Additionally, Junko Chihira can speak one more language than its predecessor — Chinese, according to the Japan Times.
Not only is Junko Chihira designed to look like a human, but was given qualities to make it more realistic. The press release notes that the android, which stands at 5 feet and 5 inches, is 26 with a June 1 birthday.
Toshiba plans on releasing more android robots in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to help assist tourists, the press release adds.
Japan has been increasingly turning to robotics in preparation for the Olympics. Robotic bulldozers led by drones are helping with construction for the Olympics due to a labour shortage in Japan.
See Junko Chihira in action:
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