JARA, Japan - IFR Industry Association Member
iREX 2011 set new record
The International Robot Exhibition (iREX) 2011 was held at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Sight, Ariake, Japan) in East Halls 1-3 from November 9 (Wed) to 12 (Sat), 2011, and proved to be a huge success. The theme of this year's exhibition was "Robot Technology: Making a Future with Robots."
In light of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake that struck on March 11 and the ensuing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, there was initially much anxiety about holding the 19th iREX this year. However, while the tragedies had some effect on the exhibition, including cancellations by a few overseas exhibitors, the scale of this year's exhibition was the largest ever, with 272 companies and organizations occupying 1,085 booths (compared to 256 companies and organizations occupying 856 booths at the previous iREX). There were also many members of the media on hand to cover the event. Visitors to this year's exhibition, excluding those involved with the exhibits and students at the junior high school age and younger, numbered 102,361, eclipsing the attendance for iREX 2009.
The layout for iREX 2011 was broadly divided into an industrial robot zone and a service robot zone. The industrial robot zone had grown considerably over that at the 2009 exhibition, with some exhibits manned by major overseas manufacturers, including KUKA Robotics, ABB, and Stäubli. The service robot zone had also evolved since the previous exhibition, with numerous exhibits run by government agencies, municipal and overseas industry groups and associations, and other organizations in addition to the company-run exhibits.
The industrial robot exhibits revealed an inclination toward increased functionality and sophistication and featured efforts to implement energy-saving measures and undertakings into future production (cell production systems, human-robot interactions, etc.). The service robot zone, on the other hand, included exhibits presenting national project achievements and current projects, as well as numerous exhibits and demonstrations with actual robots, including robots anticipated for market release in such areas as welfare, disaster response, cleaning, and entertainment.
On the opening day of the exhibition, the 2011 Service Robot Business Forum was held as a concurrent event. The forum included a keynote speech entitled "Reconstruction following the Tohoku Earthquake: Service robots for supporting the rebuilding of medical care and social services facilities," and a panel discussion among people involved at the disaster sites on "Shaping disaster response robots from lessons learned in the Tohoku earthquake" and "Roles of robots in aiding reconstruction efforts." In Robot Summit 2011 held on the second day of the exhibition, six of the world's leading robot manufacturers (ABB, KUKA Robotics, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, FANUC Corporation, Nachi-Fujikoshi Corporation, and Yaskawa Electric Corporation) and two robot end-users (Toyota Motor Corporation and the Kampo manufacturer Tsumura & Co.) gathered to discuss the future of robotics. The theme of Robot Summit 2011 was "toward the realization of robots that meet user demands." Numerous seminars and workshops were also held concurrently with the exhibition for disseminating information on robots.