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Gateway to the future: AI robots, unmanned store to give new Tokyo train station the edge

A demonstration experiment is conducted using AI-equipped digital signage at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo's Minato Ward in this July 22, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Keigetsu Hirai)

TOKYO -- Ten robots -- including ones equipped with artificial intelligence -- fulfilling roles relating to security, cleaning and providing information will be introduced on a trial basis at Takanawa Gateway Station when it opens, East Japan Railway Co. (JR East) announced on Dec. 3.

The test run will begin after the preopening of the station, expected in spring 2020. It is the first time for the robots to be put in service at a JR East-operated station.

An unstaffed store, where cameras automatically recognize and calculate the total cost of items chosen by shoppers, will also be established. Takanawa Gateway Station, set to become the Yamanote Line's 30th station, is likely to garner attention for its futuristic features using the latest technology.

Four different information-providing robots will be introduced, including one showing AI-equipped digital signage that can answer questions -- in either text or audio -- about the station, its surrounding areas, ways to transfer, and other queries. The robots will be able to display advice in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.

One security robot will patrol a preset route, and emit warnings about any suspicious individuals by using lights and sirens. Cleaning robots will be deployed during the night.

A demonstration experiment of advertising robots will also go ahead, in which they will roll around the station displaying instructions on train-use etiquette and other information.

The trial run and demonstration experiment will both go on from the station's preopening until the end of September 2020. They will run in conjunction with another test assessing the use of QR codes containing train ticket information to pass through ticket gates.

(Japanese original by Keigetsu Hirai, City News Department)

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