Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV

member station

NPR
Technology

Say Hello To The Tokyo Olympic Robots

1022990117_1069502429.jpg

A Field Support Robot was used to retrieve rugby balls on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium. Over the weekend, the FSR will help during track and field events.
Dan Mullan, Getty Images

A Field Support Robot was used to retrieve rugby balls on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Stadium. Over the weekend, the FSR will help during track and field events.

Who's a good boy at the Olympics?

The Field Support Robot is a good boy!

The black and white high-tech contraption made its debut earlier this week as one of a handful of robots designed to streamline the Tokyo Olympic Games. And it can be seen again — essentially playing fetch — during the track and field throwing events over the weekend.

The International Olympics Committee says the self-driving robot is able to suss out the "optimal path" to follow when it's chasing after hammers, javelins and all manner of objects thrown by athletes.

"This will help reduce both the amount of time needed to retrieve items and the amount of human support required at events," the IOC explained.

Other robots that have been designed and put to work in a partnership between the Games organizers and Toyota include Miraitowa and Someity. The blue and pink cartoon-looking robots are the official Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics mascots.

They were intended to serve as futuristic ambassadors to the public, as welcoming hosts who shake hands and wave, but that part of their job has been severely diminished during the spectator-free events.

Support comes from

Similarly, human and delivery support robots, which look like a fancier and taller Wall-e, were developed to make the Games more comfortable. They are providing assistance to spectators in wheelchairs at the Olympic Stadium by carrying food and other items, guiding people to their seats, and providing event information.

"The Tokyo 2020 Games are a unique opportunity for us to display Japanese robot technology," said Hirohisa Hirukawa, leader of the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project.

He added that the project will showcase the practical and real-life benefits of such machines.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

You won’t find a paywall here. Come as often as you like — we’re not counting. You’ve found a like-minded tribe that cherishes what a free press stands for.  If you can spend another couple of minutes making a pledge of as little as $5, you’ll feel like a superhero defending democracy for less than the cost of a month of Netflix.