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Aiming to establish digital infrastructure and rules for safe operation of delivery robots and drones — NEDO and Ritsumeikan University begin full-scale operational verification


On May 8, NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) announced that, together with Ritsumeikan University, it will begin its full-scale operational verification of a data collaboration platform (Agile Governance Platform) for complex system collaboration using multiple robots at the university's Osaka Ibaraki Campus (Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture) from May 19. This verification will be conducted as part of "Digital Infrastructure Development Project for Industrial DX," a project commissioned by NEDO.

Under this project, NEDO is working with Ritsumeikan University on "research and development of a mechanism to ensure safety and reliability when complex systems are linked." Their objective is to solve problems that occur when multiple systems with different operators form a highly coordinated system of systems (SoS), such as systems related to delivery robots, drones, and other autonomous mobile robots, where it is difficult to predict accidents and identify their causes. This is a set-up in which various systems with different operators are complexly interconnected and updated in a short time. These challenges are unique to SoS and are difficult to address only with governance based on conventional uniform and detailed laws and regulations. For such cases, they will build a data collaboration infrastructure that enables data collection, management and sharing during SoS operations. They will also examine a new way of governance (agile governance) different from the conventional uniform and detailed laws and regulations.

Agile governance is a model in which various stakeholders, including governments, companies, individuals, and communities, continuously analyze their own social circumstances, set goals, and design systems to realize these goals and various governance systems such as laws and regulations, markets, and infrastructure. The results are continuously evaluated and improved based on dialogue. Ritsumeikan University is engaged in research and development of "Agile Governance Platform," a data collaboration platform for collecting, managing, and sharing operational and governance-related data for autonomous mobile robots. This platform will enable the integrated management of sensor information acquired from autonomous robots, such as delivery robots and drones in operation, as well as monitoring sensor information from cameras and LiDAR installed on the building side, to quickly identify the cause of accidents and near-misses involving robots and other equipment and share information to prevent similar disasters.

Ritsumeikan University has also repeatedly operated autonomous mobile robots, including a delivery robot linked to a coffee shop, as well as this platform on the Osaka Ibaraki campus since September 2023. The demonstration of the platform's operation during complex system linking began in earnest, starting with the "Ibaraki x Ritsumeikan Day" public event on May 19, with the addition of delivery, cleaning and security robots linked to the University Co-op store on campus. Through this verification, NEDO and Ritsumeikan University will feed back knowledge that will lead to improvements in practicality and safety to development, aiming to realize a platform that can speed up the investigation of the cause and identification of responsibility in the event of an accident when multiple systems are linked. Moreover, through combination with agile governance research, they will work toward the realization of "Society 5.0," a society in which humans and robots coexist and promote autonomous evolution that can adapt to rapid change.

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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