An MoU signed with a Japanese robotics firm aims to "solve the skills shortage in the construction industry" by substituting avatar robotics for human labour, MOL said
The MoU, between Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and robotics technology specialist Meltin MMI, will see MOL install remotely controlled robots in ocean shipping operations, including on board vessels and in offshore businesses.
"The introduction of MELTIN’s remote-control robotic technology, being developed with the assumption it will be used in areas such as dangerous, time-consuming work or duties done in extremely high and low-temperature environments, can also help reduce the workload on seafarers, particularly in tasks that present challenges to hands-on operation," MOL said in a statement.
A promotional video (see below) from Meltin shows a robot, named MELTANT-β, undertaking construction tasks including using a drill and a table saw, as well as installing a light bulb. The video begins with a human donning a virtual reality headset and gloves to view and control the robotic operations depicted.
The companies refer to the robot as a proof-of-concept avatar robot for field testing.
"The companies will study details specific to different vessel types and routes to introduce remotely controlled robots and associated technologies, with an eye towards determining the feasibility of introduction, the level of onboard telecommunications technology required at sea and implementing proof of concept, which assumes practical use," MOL said.
The MoU’s objective is a joint study by the two companies to introduce Meltin’s remote-control robotic technology for adoption in MOL’s ocean shipping-related operations.
As major advances have been made in the high-speed onboard telecommunication environment in recent years, MOL said it expects to combine improved telecommunications with Meltin’s remote-controlled robotic technology.
The two companies said they are "committed to building a strategic relationship to introduce MELTIN’s technology and proceed with more detailed and specific studies".
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