Skip page header and navigation

Robots deployed to mitigate staff shortages

Robots deployed to mitigate staff shortages

July 8, 2024

Main Content

In a move to address labour shortages and enhance safety in Japan’s ageing workforce, West Japan Railway (JR West) has introduced a new humanoid robot designed to handle the demanding tasks of railway maintenance.

The newly deployed robot, mounted on a truck that can drive on rails, is operated remotely by a human sitting in the truck’s cockpit. The operator “sees” through the robot’s eyes via cameras, controlling its powerful limbs and hands with precision. This setup allows the robot to perform tasks that would be dangerous for human workers.

Japan has been grappling with severe labour shortages, which have led to a record number of bankruptcies. In the first half of the year alone, 182 companies declared bankruptcy due to the inability to find sufficient workers, NHK World reports.

Companies like JR West are now considering humanoid robots to mitigate these workforce challenges. By automating hazardous and physically demanding tasks, the company hopes to reduce the number of accidents involving workers falling from heights or suffering electric shocks.

“In the future, we hope to use machines for all kinds of maintenance operations of our infrastructure,” said JR West president Kazuaki Hasegawa, indicating that this initiative could serve as a model for addressing labour shortages nationwide.