Forget the flashy humanoids with their gymnastics skills – at the World Robot Summit in Tokyo, the focus was on down-to-earth robots that can deliver post, do the shopping and build a house.
Introducing CarriRo, a delivery robot shaped a bit like a toy London bus with bright, friendly "eyes" on its front that can zip around the streets delivering packages at 6 kmph.
CarriRo "is designed to roll along the pavements and direct itself via GPS to an address within a 2km radius," explained Chio Ishikawa, from Sumitomo Corp, which is promoting the robot.
The lucky recipient of the package is sent a code to a smartphone allowing him or her to access CarriRo's innards and retrieve whatever is inside – post, medicine or a take-away.
Services like this are especially needed in ageing Japan. With nearly 28 per cent of the population over 65, mobility is increasingly limited and the country is struggling for working-age employees.