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Tokyo Trains See Virus-Killing Disinfection Robots Tested

JR East debuted a fleet of different robots on Monday to a group of journalists.

East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) unveiled autonomous disinfectant and mobility robots to a group of journalists at a recently opened high-tech Tokyo station on Monday.

While the robots are built to clean station surfaces of potentially life-threatening viruses, the company says it likely won't introduce its robots until March 2025. 

High-tech robot demonstrations

The cleaning robot, developed by Nippon Signal Co. and Cyberdyne Inc., sprays disinfectant on surfaces such as handrails and benches. The artificial intelligence (AI) robot, Clinabo CL02, meanwhile, uses cameras and sensors to avoid obstacles.

In a separate demonstration, a robot also served coffee in a conference room at the station. Luggage-carrying robots, food and drink-dispensing robots, and personal mobility vehicles are also being trialed at the station, though they were not on display.

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As Kyodo News reports, JR East has said it is considering also using its robots and other disinfectant models to also clean the inside of trains in the future.

Takanawa Gateway Station's in-house robots

The station at which the demonstration took place is known for being a particularly high-tech railway hub in Tokyo. Takanawa Gateway Station, which opened between Tamachi and Shinagawa stations in March, is the 30th station on JR East's Yamanote Line. It is the first station to be built on the line since Nishi-Nippori Station in 1971.

JR East is using the robots at Takanawa Gateway Station as part of a test project for new technology. The station already boasts AI robots that detect suspicious items lying around the station as well as helping robots that provide train transfer information.

Other recent developments in robotics have seen UV-C light-emitting disinfectant robots deployed in different settings to fight the spread of COVID-19. JR East has also recently showcased its N700S bullet train on the Tokyo-Osaka line. 

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