Tokyo’s Olympics may become known as the “Robot Games”

Toyota’s DSR (Delivery Support Robot) (L) and HSR (Human Support Robot) are pictured at a demonstration of Tokyo 2020 Robot Project for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, March 15, 2019. (Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Tokyo’s Olympics may become known as the “Robot Games”

  • Organizers on Friday showed off robots that will be used at the new National Stadium to provide assistance for fans using wheelchairs
  • Toyota officials said 16 of the so-called “human support robots” will be used at the National Stadium with five other “delivery support robots” also being available

TOKYO: Tokyo’s Olympics may become known as the “Robot Games.”
Organizers on Friday showed off robots that will be used at the new National Stadium to provide assistance for fans using wheelchairs.
Tokyo Olympic official Masaaki Komiya pointed out that Japan is known for its robot technology, and the 2020 Summer Games are a good place to show off.
“Robots should not overwhelm people,” Komiya, the vice director general to the Tokyo Olympics, told a news conference. “Robots are something that have an amicable relationship with human beings and can work together. That’s the kind of robots we envision.”
The robots are made by major Olympic sponsor Toyota Motor Corp. Toyota officials said 16 of the so-called “human support robots” will be used at the National Stadium with five other “delivery support robots” also being available.
Not to be outdone, Panasonic Corp.— also a major Olympic sponsor — showed off its “power assist suit.” When worn, the suit offers support to the back and hip area and allows for heavy objects to be lifted with less effort. Panasonic said 20 of the suits will be used at the Olympics and could help guests with their luggage and with other lifting chores.
“Through this occasion, people in the world will be able to realize how advanced Japan is in terms of robot technology,” Hideyo Hirata, director of technology services for the Tokyo Olympics, told reporters.
Minoru Yamauchi of Toyota, the general manager for 2020 Robot Development, said the automaker is branching out and becoming a “mobility company.”
“We have been looking at how we can support the daily lives of people, and how we can develop robots that can partner with daily life,” Yamauchi said. “In the Tokyo Olympics, there will be many guests in wheelchairs and we would like them enjoy the games without worrying about their mobility.”
Yoshifumi Uchida, general manager of Panasonic’s Paralympic department, said its power assist suit technology was developed partly because of Japan’s aging population. This could help get more women and the elderly into the working population.
“We would like to have a society where people can work without caring about gender differences or age differences,” Uchida said. “When you are carrying a suitcase or a heavy box, this is where the power assist suit becomes valuable.”
He said the suits would also be used away from the venues in “related facilities and airports.”
He said the suit improved “efficiency” by about 20 percent, allowing the wearer to lift more, and for a longer time.
Battery life if about four hours, and the suit gives the wearer the ability to lift about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) more with the same energy expended.


Egyptian singer Sherine banned after claiming lack of free speech

Updated 23 March 2019
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Egyptian singer Sherine banned after claiming lack of free speech

  • The singer, who hosts the Arabic version of “The Voice,” apologized again after the latest remarks in a TV interview aired late Friday, saying she was joking
  • Last year, Sherine was sentenced to six months in prison over a similar clip from a concert in which she joked that the Nile is polluted

CAIRO: An Egyptian singer has been banned from performing in her home country after suggesting that it does not respect free speech.
A video clip circulated online shows Sherine Abdel-Wahab, during a performance in Bahrain, saying: “Here I can say whatever I want. In Egypt, anyone who talks gets imprisoned.”
Egypt’s Musicians Union responded late Friday by barring the singer, popularly known by her first name, from performing. It also summoned her for questioning.
Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer with a reputation for moral vigilantism and suing celebrities, filed a complaint against the singer accusing her of “insulting Egypt and inviting suspicious rights groups to interfere in Egypt’s affairs.”
Last year, Sherine was sentenced to six months in prison over a similar clip from a concert in which she joked that the Nile is polluted. The sentence was suspended upon appeal. She apologized for the remark, calling it a “bad joke.”
The singer, who hosts the Arabic version of “The Voice,” apologized again after the latest remarks in a TV interview aired late Friday, saying she was joking.
“I am very tired. I made a mistake. I am sorry. I appeal the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, who is our father. I feel that I was persecuted. I did nothing. I love Egypt,” she said.
Egyptian authorities have waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi led the military overthrow of Mohammed Mursi in 2013. The local media is dominated by pro-government outlets that attack anyone seen as criticizing the country or its leaders, and several people have been jailed or fined for violating vaguely written laws outlawing such criticism.