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[April 26, 2006]
New airport in Fukuoka tests 'porter robots' to carry people, baggage+
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)KITAKYUSHU, Japan, April 26_(Kyodo) _ A pair of "porter robots" developed by local machinery builders were used on a trial basis Wednesday at New Kitakyushu Airport in Fukuoka Prefecture.
The trial was conducted by a staff member who acted as a passenger after a trip and got on one of the wheeled box-shaped machines to move around the airport that opened March 16. The other smaller unit was used to carry her baggage.
They were developed by two Kitakyushu-based companies, Yaskawa Electric Corp. and Yawata Electric Machinery Mfg. Co., and Fukuoka Industrial Technology Center, affiliated with the Fukuoka prefectural government. They hope to bring them to the market in one year.
The "passenger" who sat on the machine maneuvered it using a lever, while the baggage porter robot moved around a predetermined course on the airport premises. Both are designed to move slower than people.
"By combining other units such as arms and heads, we hope we can use them not only for porter services, but also for nursing care and other areas," a Yaskawa official said.
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