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The 5 best ‘bots unveiled at Japan’s IREX robot expo

Tokyo is the robot capital of the world, so it should come as no surprise that it also hosts the world’s biggest robot expo. Held every two years, the International Robot Exhibition (IREX) is designed to forecast our automated futures, showcasing the best ‘bots currently in development, and those ready for market.

So, what were the highlights of the 2015 event? Read on for five of our faovrites…

The 5 best robots at IREX 2015

1. NEDO’s disaster bots


The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) gathered huge crowds at IREX this past weekend for its disaster prevention bots, designed to be deployed into areas too dangerous for humans to go. We’ve already seen drones built for this very purpose, but these humanoid robots are another level of awesome.

At this year’s expo were HRP-2 Kai and Jaxor (above), which demonstrated their ability to balance along narrow beams, climb through crawl spaces, analyze objects and activate sprinklers. Just five years on from the Tōhoku quake and following tsunami that devastated Japan, this kind of technology is a much welcome development.

2. Thesbot

Thesbot is another new robot built to go where humans can’t – your pipes. The modular snake-like ‘bot is mounted with cameras, capable of crawling through your drainage system to identify any problems or blockages. It’s effective but, as the above video will attest, somewhat unnerving.

3. Sharp’s Robohon smartphone


Yes, that thing is a smartphone. We’ve spoken about Sharp’s ridiculous RoboHon before, but the manufacturer was down at IREX this year showing if off once more – confirming that it’s definitely not a hoax.

“We can’t talk to a rectangular object, we are shy,” said Sharp CEO Kozo Takahashi. “There is a psychological barrier, but if the subject is similar to the person that you can talk to him.”

RoboHon is set to be released in Japan next year, so time will tell if he has a point.

4. Omnibot Ohanas


A lot of robots at IREX are of the practical kind, but just how useful you’ll find this little guy we’re not sure. It’s apparently a ‘conversation partner’, so it really depends on how well you get on. Apparently it goes beyond the interaction you’ve had on Siri, capable of having a “natural conversation” on anything from the weather to your favorite sports stars. It will even read you a bedtime story…

5. Leonardo Da Vinci bot

Last but not least is Leonardo Da Vinci – not the great inventor resurrected, but this eerily realistic humanoid straight out of the uncanny valley. the robot is designed to teach children about the potential of robot technology, although we have a feeling it may just end up freaking them out.

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