For some time Japan has been a place enthusiastic about portraying futuristic lifestyles with robots. Lifelike androids acting as receptionists were introduced at the 2005 Aichi Expo outside Nagoya, and many robotics trade shows have shown off droids for communication, housework, nursing care, and other purposes. Huis Ten Bosch is different, a European themed amusement park located in Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture, has recently opened the Robot Kingdom, an exhibit that, among other things, celebrates machines that can help out in our everyday lives. Huis Ten Bosch has also turned robots into a viable business: it features a successful hotel staffed by robots that has been open for over a year.
When Japan welcomes millions of foreign travelers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, one thing the visitors will see apart from the world’s best athletes is the world’s best robots. It may sound like the realization of countless science-fiction fantasies, but humanoid robots are now quite commonplace in big cities like Tokyo. This is a dream that was long in the making.