The biennial International Robot Exhibition is billed as the largest robot trade show in the world. Gizmag went along to this month's 21st edition in Tokyo, which attracted more companies and 20 percent more visitors than iREX 2013, to check out the latest developments in the world of robotics.
Under the theme "Making a Future with Robots" iREX 2015 was divided into two main sections – Service Robots and Industrial Robots. There was also an area devoted to the latest robotics
research and development being done by universities and institutions. It is also notable that 2015 marks the beginning of the Japanese government's Robot Revolution Initiative – a five year mission is to create and nurture relationships between enterprises, business associations and research institutions.
Here's a quick look at some of the highlights.
Examples of industrial robots abound at IREX and 2015 was no exception. From manufacturing and assembly robots to oddly-shaped inspection robots, the exhibitions displayed a high degree of speed, artificial intelligence and autonomy.
One idea for this upgrade is that their workstation does not need to be so ordered or well laid out as before. It also allows a much higher level of variability within the assemble process, so undertaking consecutive, but totally different builds. There are also special cases when an inspection robot needs to make an on the spot decision on how to proceed. It was notable though, that a human operator was ever present in the background and with their hand covering a large RED OFF BUTTON.
Several companies focussed on co-robots designed to team up with, rather than replace humans on the factory floor and elsewhere.
The future of agriculture was also in the spotlight at iREX 2015 – an issue that's particlarly important in Japan where the average age of a farmer is getting very close to the legal retirement age. Kubota, Iseki and Yanmar were among the companies exhibiting robotic products designed to help with the high physical and repetitive workloads in cultivating, planting and harvesting the land.
Robots that help aging populations retains their independence represent a key growth sector within the robotics industry. In addition to providing assistance in physical tasks, these types of robots are increasingly designed to monitor feeling and mood to form a personal relationship with human users.
Entertainment, education and humanoid robots
From sophisticated DIY robot kits to cute character robots designed to chat with 7-year olds and unnerving humanoids, iREX did not disappoint in 2015. Visit our iREX 2015 photo gallery to check out more of the highlights from the show floor.