- Japanese tech firm Docomo showed off a small tea-making robot at MWC 2023.
- The robot relies on motion-sharing technology so that it can mimic a human counterpart.
- Docomo’s overall goal is to create haptics so users can share emotions and skills with other people.
Robotics companies have long focused on pushing their cyborgs to the limit by making them perform increasingly-difficult athletic activities like parkour.
But the latest generation of robots has been tasked with something far more straightforward: making tea.
Japan’s Docomo showed off a small tea-making robot at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week that was more impressive for its ability to mimic humans than its physical prowess.
Docomo’s robot relied on the company’s motion-sharing technology that enabled it to follow the actions of its human counterpart in real-time. A demonstrator hooked up with a series of motion detectors simulated all the actions involved in brewing tea while the robot performed the same actions with an actual cup.
The motion can be recorded and repeated at any point, so the robot could stir tea by itself, a Docomo representative said. The ability of the robot to mimic human actions could eventually boast an array of real-life use cases that could see menial and repetitive tasks automated.
It is powered by a device that records the person’s state and transfers it to the robot. The company expects to be able to do this wirelessly once 6G, the next generation of mobile broadband, comes to fruition.
Each generation of mobile broadband is touted as faster and more reliable. The fifth generation, or 5G, promises better download and upload speeds and wider connectivity. Despite 5G still being rolled out, there was a clear buzz around 6G at MWC this year.
The tea-making robot is just one way in which Docomo demonstrated human augmentation at MWC. It also applied the motion transfer tech to a musical keyboard and showed off extended reality, or XR.
Docomo’s overall goal is to create haptics so people can share emotions and skills with other people – not unlike those shown off in Amazon Prime’s “The Peripheral,” based on a book of the same name that allows characters to sync up with each other’s feelings.
The company envisions a future where each of the five senses can be transferred between people, with applications from medicine to art. Even clothing stores could take advantage of it to give customers a feel of fabrics before buying a product, the company claims.
Robots have dramatically improved in recent years with Boston Dynamics continually unveiling more robust versions of their upright cyborgs and robot dogs. In 2021, the US company demonstrated how its machines could perform a series of complex parkour moves.