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meet iruyo, nissan’s furry robots that babysit and play with children while the parents drive

Let’s welcome nissan’s two furry support robots, iruyo

 

Nissan Motor and baby-product manufacturer Akachan Honpo relieve parents from keeping an eye on their children in the backseat while they’re driving by developing a pair of smart robots that can play with and babysit children. Named Iruyo, the tandem of furry, stuffed toy robots can enact peek-a-boo with the children to keep their spirits up and prevent them from wailing or causing worries for their parents. The larger Iruyo robot sits with the children while the smaller furry one sits in front of the parent or the dashboard. Nissan installs its sensing technology in Iruyo, similar to the one they use for their vehicles, making the smart robots monitor both the children and the parents.

nissan robots iruyo
video stills courtesy of Nissan Motor Co.

 

 

How do nissan’s furry iruyo robots work?

 

When the driver-parent interacts with Nissan’s Iruyo robot, in design collaboration with TBWA HAKUHODO, on the dashboard using signal words such as ‘I’m here’ or ‘I’ll sing a song,’ the furry robot at the back starts to play with the children, sing them a song, and even comfort them by waving its hands in the air. Iruyo is equipped with cameras, so Nissan’s robots can detect the facial expressions of both the parents and the children, allowing for two-way communication. Because of this monitoring capability, Iruyo can detect if the children are sleeping. The furry robot at the back sends this signal to the baby Iruyo on the dashboard, which then closes its eyes. In this way, the parent knows that their children are sleeping or at peace.

nissan robots iruyo
Iruyo is a pair of smart robots that can help babysit children while the parents are driving

 

 

Are nissan’s iruyo robots effective?

 

The furry Iruyo robots came to life after Nissan and Akachan Honpo conducted a joint survey. Their findings revealed that more than 60 percent of parents in Japan drive alone with their children at least once or twice a week. Over 80 percent of the respondents say that they’re not able to comfort and attend to their children when they cry since they are driving. For babies who are under 15 months, it’s more challenging given that their seats are facing the back of the driver’s seats, preventing them from seeing each other. It was for this reason that Nissan and Akachan Honpo developed the furry Iruyo robots, hoping to assist parents in babysitting their children while they’re driving.

nissan robots iruyo
Nissan’s Iruyo robots are equipped with sensors and cameras to help monitor the children

 

 

Nissan and Akachan Honpo continued their studies, and during their demo and experiment, conducted by the Kitasato University Faculty of Health Sciences, they collaborated with real parents and their children experiencing the issue at hand. The results revealed that 90 percent of the babies paid attention to the moving and entertaining furry Iruyo robot and managed to prolong their attention retention. Half of the babies were seen with improved positive emotions too when the robot was activated.

nissan robots iruyo
when the children are sleeping at the back, the Iruyo robot on the dashboard sleeps too as an indicator

 

 

The colors of Nissan’s Iruyo robots play a role too in attracting and retaining the attention of the children. Red is the leading shade, and the lineup also comprises pink and vanilla. The main color was chosen based on the advice of Associate Professor Takushi Kawamorita of Kitasato University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, who co-conducted the demonstration experiment. The professor mentioned that red is an effective color to attract the attention of children and recognize it early in their development. The addition of soft colors like pink and vanilla was added later on to tone down the appearance of the furry Iruyo robots while still making them eye-catching.

nissan robots iruyo
other colors of Nissan’s Iruyo robots are in the lineup including pink and vanilla

 

 

So far, the furry Iruyo robots are still a concept model, and Nissan and Akachan Honpo have no plans yet to sell it as they go through more trial sessions that can allow the public to experience the smart robots. The next ones are expected to take place from February 10th to 11th, 2024, at Akachan Honpo LaLaport Yokohama Store, where the participants’ feedback on the capabilities of the furry Iruyo robots will be considered to further improve the sensing technology and functionalities of the robotic babysitters.

nissan robots iruyo
Nissan’s Iruyo robots playing peek-a-boo

nissan robots iruyo
vanilla-colored Iruyo robot

nissan-iruyo-robot-support-babysitting-designboom-ban-1

so far, Nissan’s Iruyo robots are still concept models with no official plans to be commercialized yet

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