Humanoid Robotics, Culture and Society of Japan
Even though the market size is still small at this moment, applied fields of robots are gradually spreading from the manufacturing industry to the others in recent years. One can now easily expect that applications of robots will expand into the first and the third industrial fields as one of the important components to support our society in the 21st century. There also raises strong anticipations in Japan that robots for the personal use will coexist with humans and provide supports such as the assistance for the housework, care of the aged and the physically handicapped, since Japan is one the fastest aging societies in the world. Consequently, humanoid robots and/or animaloid robots have been treated as subjects of robotics researches in Japan such as a research tool for human/animal science, an entertainment/mental-commit robot or an assistant/agent for humans in the human living environment. Over the last couple of years, some manufactures including famous global companies started to develop prototypes or even to sell mass production robots for the purposes mentioned above, such as TOYOTA, TMSUK, SONY, HONDA, Mitsubishi Heavy, ZMP, etc. Most of those robots have some life-likeness in their appearances and behaviors. Why are so many Japanese companies developing humanoid robots?