Next time you find yourself lost in Japan, don't be alarmed if a friendly robot rolls up to you and tries to get you where you want to go. The Robovie, designed by Osaka's Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute, uses a network of 9 RFID tag readers, 6 laser range finders and 16 cameras to sort individuals in a crowd into different categories and react to them accordingly.
A three day test found the Robovie able to keep tabs on 20 people, tagging them as waiting, meandering or lost, and acknowledging their speed. When Robovie identifies someone as lost, it rolls up, engages them, and provides directions to where they want to go — or even recommendations if they're unsure.
ATR has established a permanent presence at the Universal Citywalk Osaka shopping complex, and plans to use the area to not only test its robots, but to try and get them hired by the stores there as well.