Minamisoma city to host part of world robot competitions in 2020

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced on Dec. 2 that some competitions of the first “World Robot Summit” scheduled for 2020 will be held at the “Robot Testing Fields,” a robotics research hub being built in Minamisoma city, Fukushima Prefecture. The event falls on the year when the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will take place. By allowing the city to host part of the event, the ministry hopes to publicize among Olympic athletes and other parties Japan’s recovery from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Participants in the robotics summit will compete in six events in three fields. In Minamisoma in mid-August, competitions will take place over a period of about three days in two events associated with infrastructure and disaster response, such as plant disaster prevention as well as response to and recovery from tunnel accidents. In the plant disaster prevention segment, participants will compete in robot performances, including plant equipment checks, parts exchanges and searches for persons in need of rescue, in preparation of accidents at petrochemical complexes. In the tunnel accident sector, robot performances will be judged in terms of their capabilities to collect information, rescue people and remove stalled motor vehicles, among other aspects. The main competition venue will be a major exhibition site on an artificial island where an airport is situated in Ise Bay, off Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Competitions will be held in early October in two fields -- manufacturing and service -- as well as in the junior sector limited to participants 19 years old or younger. (Translated by Kyodo News)