Asia Business Channel

A Japanese University used remote-controlled robots to hold a virtual graduation

The ceremony was a combination of both virtual and “real world”, with four students and a few administrators in attendance physically


Students at Business Breakthrough University in Tokyo didn't receive a traditional graduation ceremony recently, due to the coronavirus pandemic, but they had the next best thing. Using "Newme" mobile robots with a tablet to host a Zoom call, graduates had the experience of walking across the stage and accepting their diplomas, virtually, at the graduation ceremony held at the Hotel Grand Palace in Tokyo.

As COVID-19 has infected almost two million people worldwide, and closed schools around the world, students have found creative ways to recreate cancelled events.

A group of eight elementary school students held a virtual graduation ceremony in the popular game "Minecraft." Students at the University of Pennsylvania were inspired by that ceremony, and recreated their entire campus in "Minecraft," and they have made plans to hold graduation and other events online.

Virtual gatherings have become more common, but BBT University took a novel approach, using remotely controlled robots to make the ceremony more physical. Here's what it was like.



This ceremony was made possible through ANA Group's "Newme" robot, which is designed to work as a remotely controlled, customizable avatar that is also being used for museum visits and other outings limited by the coronavirus / Source: ANA.



Each robot became a “real-world” avatar, with a tablet in place of the students face, and the robots were dressed in typical graduation caps and gowns.



The graduates who were unable to attend the real world graduation ceremony watched and experienced the ceremony, using the Zoom virtual meeting platform. As well as students, their family and friends could also log into Zoom to watch the ceremony.



The robot avatars received diplomas for each student. The BBT staff, and other graduates who physically attended the ceremony controlled the movements of the robot avatars at the graduation ceremony.



When a graduate's name was called, the avatar moved to the podium where Omae Kenichi, the university's president, who stood on stage. The graduate's face appeared on the tablet so they could experience receiving a diploma.



Management students from all over Japan and the world, as well as the families and friends of the graduates tuned into the “Graduation Ceremony” from their homes via the Zoom platform.



The ceremony was conducted as traditionally as possible, with the University's president, Omae Kenichi, giving the students a speech commemorating their graduation.



Dean of BBT’s Global Business Administration, Professor Shugo Yanaka, planned the virtual ceremony. He said that he hopes BBT's ceremony can be helpful for other institutions working to hold events.




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