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

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.


Skeptic of world being round dies in California rocket crash

Updated 24 February 2020

Skeptic of world being round dies in California rocket crash

  • “Mad” Mike Hughes said he wanted to fly to the edge of outer space to see if the world is round
  • His home-built rocket blasted off into the desert sky and plunged back to earth in California

BARSTOW, California: A California man who said he wanted to fly to the edge of outer space to see if the world is round has died after his home-built rocket blasted off into the desert sky and plunged back to earth.
“Mad” Mike Hughes was killed on Saturday afternoon after his rocket crashed on private property near Barstow, California.
Waldo Stakes, a colleague who was at the rocket launch, said Hughes, 64, was killed.

"Mad" Mike Hughes. (Science Channel/via REUTERS/File photo)
 


The Science Channel said on Twitter it had been chronicling Hughes’ journey and that “thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends during this difficult time.”
“It was always his dream to do this launch,” the Twitter message said.
Hughes also was a limousine driver, who held the Guinness world record for “longest limousine ramp jump,” for jumping 103 feet (31 meters) in a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine, at a speedway in 2002.
A video on TMZ.com showed the rocket taking off, with what appears to be a parachute tearing off during the launch. The steam-powered rocket streaks upward, then takes around 10 seconds to fall straight back to earth. Shrieks can be heard as the rocket plows into the desert.

Freelance journalist Justin Chapman, who was at the scene, said the rocket appeared to rub against the launch apparatus, which might have caused the mishap with the parachute.
In March 2018, Hughes propelled himself about 1,875 feet (570 meters) into the air. He deployed one parachute and then a second one but still had a hard landing in the Mojave Desert in California, and injured his back.
“This thing wants to kill you 10 different ways,” Hughes said after that launch. “This thing will kill you in a heartbeat.”
He said in a video that his goal was to eventually fly to the edge of outer space to determine for himself whether the world is round.
“I don’t want to take anyone else’s word for it,” he said in the video, posted on the BBC News website. “I don’t know if the world is flat or round.”
In another video posted on his YouTube site, Hughes said he also wanted “to convince people they can do things that are extraordinary with their lives.”
“My story really is incredible,” Hughes once told The Associated Press. “It’s got a bunch of story lines — the garage-built thing. I’m an older guy. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, plus the Flat Earth. The problem is it brings out all the nuts also.”