Humanoid robots developed by Hitachi Ltd. that speak Japanese, English and Chinese started guiding on Tuesday tourists visiting a high-rise commercial complex in Yokohama amid the growing number of foreign visitors to Japan.
The foot-wheel 90-centimeter robot called EMIEW3 helps visitors buy tickets or explains the views from the observation desk at the 70-story, 296-meter Yokohama Landmark Tower.
An EMIEW3 robot welcomes customers at the reception area on the second floor of the building, and three other robots are placed at the observation deck.
"By using robots, we're hoping to help solve social problems including a lack of workforce and better serve the increasing number of overseas tourists," Takeshi Yamamoto, the head of Hitachi's robot division, said at a press conference.
During a demonstration of the robots, an EMIEW3 talked with two foreign visitors in English, Chinese and Japanese about tourist spots in Yokohama such as Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse.
"Where are you from?" the robot asked one of the visitors in English during their conversation.
Developed in 2016, EMIEW3 can walk autonomously with four tires and dance and give quizzes to visitors.
Hitachi aims to introduce the robot in other places, such as commercial facilities, stations and airports, and plans to upgrade it to have it speak Korean and other languages.
The government aims to boost the number of foreign tourists by about 40 percent from 2017 to 40 million in 2020, the year the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are held.