Asia Business Channel

Humanoid robots will guide tourists in Kyoto

RoBoHon, a small two-legged humanoid robot with artificial intelligence features, built by the Sharp Corporation, will accompany tourists in taxis in Kyoto and offer sightseeing guidance in Chinese, English and Japanese starting on September 22nd.

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Sharp, Kyoto-based taxi operator MK Co and travel agency JTB Corp said they have teamed up to provide a tourism package until March 31, 2019 that will meet the growing demand for sightseeing, using taxis, amid the increasing number of travelers to Japan.

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Passengers in MK taxis can rent RoBoHon for 6-hours, at prices from 6,000 ~ 7,000 JYN and learn about the history and culture of the sites they are visiting from conversations with RoBoHon, a robot that can interact with users through AI and has basic mobile phone functions, such as voice service and camera. Customers can also take the robot out of taxis with them to tourist spots to use as a guide.

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RoBoHon “tours” will begin at an MK taxi rendezvous point in front of JR Kyoto Station. Destinations on the tour will include Kiyomizu temple, Nanzen-ji temple and Shogunzuka Seiryu-den, a wooden hall located on top of a mountain where visitors can get a panoramic view over Kyoto.

Sharp has been exploring the use of the robot phone, which is about 19.5 centimeters tall and weighs 390 grams, for corporate use and tourism purposes since its launch in May 2016. Along with other Japanese electronic companies, Sharp hopes that RoBoHon will be used by tourist visiting Japan for the 2020 Olympics, who will then decide to purchase RoBoHon and take it with them to their home country.

To see RoBoHon in action, check out this video:

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