Monday, October 27, 2008

OFW Domestic Helpers Beware: The Home Robots Are Coming

If Filipinos worried about a slowdown of remittances from a potential worldwide economic recession seems valid enough, household chores based OFWs should worry about this.

Toyota has developed home robots that can do household work, and is about to hit the market in seven years time.

courtesy of Japan Times

This from the Japanese Times,

``Toyota Motor Corp. and a research body of the University of Tokyo have jointly developed a prototype for what many busy career people have been dreaming of for a long time: A hardworking robot that handles household chores.

``In a demonstration for reporters last week, the robot cleaned up rooms, smoothly put away dishes from a dining table and picked up shirts and put them in a washing machine.

``The 155-cm, 130-kg humanoid robot excels in the capacity to distinguish and perceive objects such as furniture and cleaning equipment, its developers said.

``The robot also analyzes past failures and corrects its behavior patterns, they said.

``Toyota and Tokyo University's Information and Robot Technology Research Initiative said the robot has been designed to help cope with the predicted labor shortage stemming from Japan's aging society and low birthrate.

``The developers said they will keep improving the robot and hope to start marketing it in around seven years.

``The robot is equipped with two arms, five recognition cameras and laser sensors. It gets around on wheels."

Some observations:

One, the present technology of robots are limited yet. They can’t drop or fetch school children, nor can they clothe, bath or apply first aid to them. Nor can they cook for the family or do marketing chores. But constant innovation will probably add more of these features in the future.

Two, if the cost of buying and maintaining a robot would prove to be more affordable or beneficial than one dispensed by the present household maids then our OFWs are likely in jeopardy of losing work. Yes, seven years is still seven years but preparation should prepare us from any shocks.

Three, Japan still has an inherently closed culture such that it would prefer to invent robots to do household work than to allow other nationalities to assume such a role.

With a rapidly declining population its a curiosity that they're afraid or averse to "intermarriages" or opening their society to other nationalities.

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