JR West to Introduce Humanoid Robot for Railroad Maintenance; Looking to Expand its Use in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A robot for railroad maintenance to be implemented by West Japan Railway Co.

West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) will introduce a humanoid robot to handle maintenance work, such as painting emplacements along railroad tracks and cutting down fallen trees.

JR West said Thursday that it plans to put the robot into operation in the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area in July.

The railroad expects to make improvements in labor and safety by using the robot to perform dangerous and laborious work at elevated positions.

Mounted on a construction vehicle, the robot will be able to work at heights of up to 12 meters with its two arms.

The robot is capable of lifting objects weighing up to 40 kilograms, and its arms can be replaced with tools such as chain saws and brushes.

The robot is operated from inside a construction vehicle by a worker using goggles to view images from the robot’s camera.

The weight and feel of objects gripped by the robot are transmitted to the control lever, “allowing operators to move the robot as if they were doing the work themselves,” JR West President Kazuaki Hasegawa said.

With the introduction of the robot, the manpower required for the work will be reduced by around 30%, according to the firm. JR West will consider expanding the number of units in use and marketing them to other companies while verifying the effectiveness of the robot.