CBS News October 20, 2018, 12:21 PM Machines at Japan's World Robot Summit host TV shows and help you pass the sniff test
Tokyo is hosting the World Robot Summit this week and it's packed with the usual assortment of the practical, the weird, and the entertaining.
When it comes to factory robots, Japan is king. More than half of all industrial robots sold last year were made in the country.
The hazardous behemoths of old are getting kinder and gentler. Once corralled behind fences, factory bots are now working side by side and even collaborating with humans.
"Lifting 40-pound components is a real strain on human bodies. So robots do the heavy lifting and people do the light, complex work," one developer told CBS News' Lucy Craft.
Modern robots now have a light enough touch to grab — and delicately box — potato chips. The world's first high-precision, tactile robot arm enables users to remotely sense what's being touched, even from 3,000 miles away.
The technology could transform fields from agriculture to medicine and disaster response.
Japan has long had a love affair with robots, and with its human population on the decline, it's no surprise robots are coming off the factory floor and taking a bigger role in everyday life. They're being tested in the notoriously short-handed nursing industry and helping monks perform funerals. They're also being mobilized as tour guides and as the ideal ping-pong partner, playing at any level.
Robo-sniffer dogs keel over to warn their users about foot odor, and a pig-tailed bot tells users if their breath passes the smell test, taking the heartache out of halitosis.
Even the banal chitchat of daytime TV has been creepily replicated by an android that appears eerily close to an actual celebrity.
Whatever shape they're in, robots are grabbing attention like never before.