The West Japan Rail Company has unveiled a giant worker robot that can carry out repairs and other tasks deemed too dangerous for human beings. According to publication New Atlas, the objectives are "to improve productivity and safety", and allow workers to move around different forms of heavy equipment. When working on repairs or improvements, many railway workers are at risk of electric shocks as well as falling. The robot is controlled by a human being using Virtual Reality.
A video showcasing the robot's functionality has been posted on the railways' official Twitter handle.
In the video, the robot can be seen with a large torso which rides on the rails in a special car. Once it reaches a location that requires repairs, it puts down its stabilising legs. What's incredibly unique about this robot is that the human who is controlling it, is doing so through Virtual Reality goggles. While holding on to a pair of handles, the operator is able to move the robot's arms and hands, thereby performing repairs remotely.
The video showcases the robot lifting and putting into position several large components, along with cleaning the overhead structures. The handler who is controlling the robot can also be seen using the mechanical clamps attached to the robot, thereby displaying a decent amount of dexterity.
Even though the robot looks incredibly impressive, it is still just in the prototype stage with many kinks required to be ironed out. It has been developed by Nippon Singal Company in collaboration with Human Machinery Company. The robot is projected to be ready the year 2024.