Japanese railway company to use a giant humanoid robot for fixing power lines

They are operated by humans using Virtual Reality.
Ameya Paleja
The giant robot being with human operatorJR West/ Twitter

The West Japan Rail Company, also known as JR West, has unveiled its giant worker robot that can be tasked to carry out jobs that are considered risky for humans, New Atlas reported.

While we have diligently covered different types of robots being built for our future,  including humanoid ones with extremely realistic expressions, a giant humanoid robot is something we haven't seen before.

How does it work?

The robot has a human-like torso and a pair of hands to carry out a range of tasks, such as cleaning the power lines with a specially-designed multi-angle brush. However, it is not just a cleaning robot but also one that can carry out maintenance tasks using its clamp-like hands that are compatible with a host of other tools. 

Perched on top of the torso is a pair of digital cameras that serve as eyes for the human operator that handles the robot through a virtual reality (VR) headset. Using motion-tracking, the operator controls the movement of the cameras on the robot, while a pair of handles help him control the robot's arms and hands. If an external force acts on the arms, it is relayed back to the pilot's controls, who can then take necessary action. 

Thanks to the hydraulic crane that hoists the torso, the robot can do some heavy-lifting.

Caution! Work in progress

While functional, the robot is still a prototype, developed by Nippon Singal company and Human Machinery Company. The first of its kind robot will be put to full-time work in 2024. There will likely be more spin-offs of these giant robots that will help take humans out of high-risk jobs involving electric lines and working at tremendous heights.