The prototype robot features a railway car and crane arm and will undertake jobs currently too risky for workers
Japanese railway company, West Japan Rail, has designed a prototype VR-controlled robot to clean and maintain railroad infrastructure deemed too high-risk for humans to repair.
Standing at 32 feet tall, the mammoth machine can reportedly lift objects up to 22 pounds in weight to a height of 33 feet. It is being constructed alongside the Nippon Signal Co. and the Human Machinery Co. to explore safety and productivity tools in the railway maintenance sector.
While it may look as though the bot operates autonomously, it is controlled by engineers through VR headsets and remote controls. Similar to a VR game, these operators can control the robot’s movements on their own, and can even determine the weight of certain objects when picked up by the robot.
Attached to both a crane arm and railway car, the robot has significant versatility and freedom of movement, allowing it to repair a host of railway infrastructures.
Trials of the robot have been underway since April, and a final iteration of the model is anticipated to debut in 2024, before rolling out commercially.