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Porter 'Robots' For Baggage, If Not People
Porter 'robots' were used on a trial basis at New Kitakyushu Airport in Fukuoka Prefecture in Japan.
A staff member acted as a passenger, and stepped aboard one of the wheeled machines to move around the airport. The smaller unit was apparently able to move on its own (thereby counting as being more like a true robot) while the larger unit carrying the passenger was essentially a motorized wheelchair under the guidance of the passenger.
The porter chair and its associated baggage carrying 'bot were developed by 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.
I'm always fascinated by these stories, because I can see the autoporter from John Brunner's excellent 1975 novel Shockwave Rider. Check it out.
The ubiquitous TMSUK has already got the jump on these guys; take a look at an earlier story TMSUK Robot Carries Your Bags.
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