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Robot-friendly workplaces: Japan sees shared rules paving path

Public-private project looks to expand technology beyond manufacturing

An autonomous robot disinfects a handrail in Tokyo's Takanawa Gateway Station. (Photo by Shohei Nomoto)

TOKYO -- Nearly two dozen major Japanese companies will join an effort to help workplaces more easily accommodate robots, in hopes of improving productivity and relieving chronic labor shortages in such areas as retail and logistics.

The public-private Robot Revolution & Industrial IoT Initiative, coordinated by Japan's industry ministry, will test ways to create robot-friendly environments, such as changing the shapes of objects to make them easier to grab and setting common telecommunications standards. Trials will start as early as September.

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