International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 7, Issue 5, pp 841–857 | Cite as

Intersection of “Tokku” Special Zone, Robots, and the Law: A Case Study on Legal Impacts to Humanoid Robots

  • Yueh-Hsuan WengEmail author
  • Yusuke Sugahara
  • Kenji Hashimoto
  • Atsuo Takanishi


The unique “Tokku” Special Zone for Robot-ics Empirical Testing and Development (RT special zone) originated in Japan. Since 2003, the world’s first RT special zone had already established in Fukuoka Prefecture, Fukuoka City and Kitakyushu City. At that time, Takanishi Laboratory, Humanoid Robotics Institute of Waseda University had conducted many empirical testing within several different spots of the special zone to evaluate the feasibility for bipedal humanoid robots on public roads from 2004 to 2007. It is also known as the world’s first public roads testing for bipedal robots. The history of RT special zone is merely 10 years long, but there are already many special zones established in Fukuoka, Osaka, Gifu, Kanagawa and Tsukuba. As the development of robotics and its submergence to the society expand, the importance of RT special zone as an interface for robots and society will be more apparent. In this paper, our main focus is to view the impacts of the “Tokku” special zone system to the human-robot co-existence society. We would like to make a systematic review for RT special zone, and further to investigate the relationship between RT special zone, robots and the law through a case study on legal impacts regarding bipedal humanoid robots in which the materials for the case study come from Waseda University’s experiment on WL-16RII and WABIAN-2R at the Fukuoka RT special zone.


Regulation of robotics Robot law  Human-robot co-existence Empirical legal studies  RT special zone Humanoid robots 



The authors wish to thank Ms. Diane Chiang of the Art Center College of Design for her helpful suggestions; Mr. Shoji Seri of the Robotics Industry Development Council (RIDC) and officials of the Economy, Tourism and Culture Bureau, New Industry and Investment Promotion Department, Fukuoka City Hall for surveying their non-disclosed documents to the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yueh-Hsuan Weng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yusuke Sugahara
    • 2
  • Kenji Hashimoto
    • 3
  • Atsuo Takanishi
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Internet Law, Peking University Law SchoolBeijingChina
  2. 2.School of Science and EngineeringKokushikan UniversitySetagaya-kuJapan
  3. 3.Research Institute for Science and Engineering (RISE)Waseda UniversityShinjuku-kuJapan
  4. 4.Department of Modern Mechanical Engineering/Humanoid Robotics InstituteWaseda UniversityShinjuku-kuJapan

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