Saturday, July 17, 2004

What is it about robots in Japan?

Japan has a long history of making robots. In the 19th century there were tea-serving robots. These machines, called karakuri, had incredibly sophisticated mechanisms driven by a spring made from whale baleen (teeth-like body parts used in filtering food from sea water). A tea-serving automaton could move across a room bearing a tray of tea. Once the guest had taken the tea, emptied their cup and replaced it on the tray, the robot would turn and 'walk' away. Japan's modern love affair with robots probably began in the 1950s with an incredibly popular called Tetsuwan Atom (Atom Boy as he is known elsewhere). The cartoon, about a powerful but good robot boy influenced a whole generation and seemed to fix forever in the Japanese mind the firm belief that robots will only ever be our friends and benefactors.
Today Japan accounts for more than half the industrial robots in use in the world and probably has an even greater monopoly on leisure robots.


Blogger Kevin said...

I have a robot news blog at

i just added a forum for discussing robotics and related issues. I invite you to join in. Your interest in japanese robots would be welcomed.

6:31 AM  
Anonymous Bloobuoy said...

I have some nice video clips of lots of Japanese robots - I think you should add them to your site bloobuoy2(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk

4:30 AM  

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