Robot requesting store customers to wear masks tested in Osaka

A robot capable of requesting customers to wear masks and maintain social distance to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus is being tested in an Osaka shop.

The robot’s developer, the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, envisions that it will be used to replace staff in stores and reduce contact between people amid the pandemic.

The trial, which began Wednesday at a merchandise store for Japanese professional soccer club Cerezo Osaka in the city’s Suminoe Ward, is scheduled to run through Nov 30 but may be extended.

With the layout of the store inputted beforehand, the robot, equipped with a camera and sensors, is able to observe customer movements and measure distances using lasers as it patrols.

The robot identifies customers who are not wearing masks and calls on them to do so after institute staff confirm through the camera that it has not made an error.

The robot, which can direct customers to products in the store, also warns people who are not socially distancing when lining up to pay.

The pilot test is currently being held between 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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