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Message from the division head

Tamio Tanikawa (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology),
98th Head of the Robotics and Mechatronics Division

I am honored to have been appointed as the head of the Robotics and Mechatronics Division during its 98th term. I shall endeavor to contribute to the vitality of the division as well as to the development of industry through robotics and mechatronics technologies by enlisting the cooperation of our members, the planning committee, and the operating committee.

Our annual divisional Robotics and Mechatronics conference (ROBOMECH), held in Hiroshima City in 2019, was a huge success with 1,326 presentations and 2,056 registered fee-paying attendees. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to those who participated, made presentations, and assisted with the organization of the event. In 2020 the conference will be held from May 27th (Wednesday) to 30th (Saturday) at the Ishikawa Industrial Exhibition Hall, with the theme "Robotics and mechatronics that accelerate the fusion of different fields." Our conference boasts of a particularly large number of presentations and attendees compared to other divisions of the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers, and covers a wide range of fields including AI and IoT, with a focus on robotics and mechatronics. Areas of application are not limited to industry, but target a wide range of fields including agriculture and services, enabling collaboration between researchers from different disciplines. Presentations take the form of poster sessions, which allows the presenter to be flexible with the format, with many choosing to include hardware exhibits and demonstrations. We hope that the conference will continue to allow its attendees to "observe," "have fun," and "find it useful".

As the name suggests, Mechatronics is an English name coined in Japan by fusing "mechanisms" and "electronics." This field incorporates technologies from different disciplines and, I believe, this leads to the creation of new values. Today, computers, which are electronic devices, are interconnected using the internet, and robotic systems that have historically operated in isolation have been transformed into distributed systems via the internet. Intelligence is also constructed in the cloud through the fusion of cloud technologies, instead of being contained within the robots themselves. The worlds portrayed in old science fiction novels and comics are becoming a reality, figuratively if not literally. For example, Doraemon's "Anywhere Door" is indirectly realized by enabling people to virtually travel to faraway places using VR technologies, even allowing physical interactions through remotely controlled robots. In other words, this field brings the dreams of engineers to life by converting "imagination" to "creation." Having been in existence for 30 years, the division continues to be vibrant, with younger members taking an active part. Such dynamic activities are the driving force behind innovations that generate new values by transforming the structure of existing industries. I believe our divisionfs activities can help revitalize industries throughout Japan.

Finally, I would like to finish by mentioning some of my past research as a way of introduction. I had been fascinated by robots ever since I was a student, and I was fortunate to have found a job at a robotics research institute, where I studied micromanipulation techniques for manipulating small objects of the order of a few microns. From the knowledge of various microsensors used in this research, the study has expanded to sensor networks interconnected via the internet, and further to Ubiquitous Robotics comprising interconnected distributed robots. This has now extended further into cyber-physical systems research that can lead us to Society 5.0, in which the society as a whole involves a fusion of AI, IoT and robots. While delving into a particular research theme remains important, I would like the division to contribute to the expansion of knowledge and cross-disciplinary research as well as to the development of industries that can create new values by pivoting on the axis of core research. Your continued support for the divisionfs activities is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Last Update: 2020/04/01
Published by: JSME Robotics and Mechatronics Division Publicity Committee