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Meet the Japanese robots that do what humans can't

Dancing and disasters at the world's biggest robot show

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Nearly half the jobs in Japan could be performed by robots in a decade or two, according to a recent study by Nomura Research Institute. If that's the case, then the International Robot Exhibition — IREX for short — is going to be the best place possible to get a glimpse of Japan's future.

Held in Tokyo once every two years since 1973, IREX is the biggest robot show in the world, and it features everything from cute communication bots to immensely powerful industrial machinery. Companies like Fanuc, which makes robot factory equipment used by Apple and Tesla but generally stays out of the spotlight, take center stage at IREX to demonstrate how effortlessly their articulated arms can pick up entire cars. (The answer is "completely," as you'll see in the video below.)

It's a show where online video companies' dancing idol robots rub shoulders with government-sponsored androids designed to save lives in natural disasters. As you might imagine, it's quite the place to walk around.

A video posted by sam byford (@345triangle) on


Of course there were dancing idol robots dressed as French maids. The Premaid Ai range starts at ¥138,000 ($1,124), or ¥10,000 ($81) more if bundled with a low-end Android phone, and uses 25 servomotors to power its performances.