Tmsuk, a Start Up in Kyoto Tries New Mobility Business

Though mobility as a service (MaaS) using automated driving is currently spreading globally, many attempts at its integration remain as test programs set to test the cost and efficiency of such systems.

By Sachiko Hijikata

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RODEM for the rental business (courtesy of Tmsuk)

Start-up in Kyoto Makes Groundbreaking Innovations in Robotics for Tourism and Medical Care

Though mobility as a service (MaaS) using automated driving is currently spreading globally, many attempts at its integration remain as test programs set to test the cost and efficiency of such systems. A start-up in Kyoto, however, is currently attempting to establish the world’s first profitable business model for self-driving MaaS through a project, currently under the working name of “Kyoto Mobility.”

The project is led by Tmsuk Co., Ltd., a robotics company founded in 2000 headquartered in Kyoto City with a team consisting of 25 individuals. Their engineering team consists of select experts on robotics and data analysis. Though still a relatively new company, Tmsuk has introduced a series of unique and advanced projects to the world, unlike anything that has been seen before.

One such project is the development of RODEM, an electric one-seater vehicle which offers various functions, such as acting as a motorized wheel-chair, or as a low-speed vehicle that is able to operate on the sidewalk (maximum 6 km/h, or 3.7 mph) as well as on the road (maximum 12 km/h, or 7.5 mph). It is also a 5G-operated remote controlled vehicle, offering complete autonomous driving using GPS.

U.S. Delta Air Lines Eager to Introduce RODEM

Tmsuk’s current project is the implementation of a MaaS system in Kyoto that allows users to rent RODEMs in popular tourist spots and be able to drop them off anywhere, as the RODEMs will automatically drive themselves back to renting areas or charging stations using their autonomous system. RODEM is also one of the first vehicles to be able to change their speed settings so users can drive them both on sidewalks or larger roads, a method yet unheard of anywhere else in the world.

RODEM has filed patents globally as a “rear-mounted, motorized wheelchair.” Users will be able to easily move from a bed or chair onto a RODEM, making it ideal for medical care facilities or nursing homes.

As of last spring, Tmsuk has received inquiries from Delta Air Lines in the United States to use RODEMs for transporting individuals across airports.

Chairman Yoichi Takamoto of Tmsuk, who works to implement and integrate the ideas made by the engineers, stated, “RODEM meets safe driving standards by responding to traffic lights and pedestrian crossings through deep machine learning. We want to create a business model that will become the global standard for personal mobility, and introduce this system to the whole world.”

If successful, Kyoto will be the starting point of a large mobility business used across the world.

CES Debut in Early 2022

Child patient robot “Pedia_Roid” (courtesy of Tmsuk).

Tmsuk has also received high acclaim globally in the field of “workroids,” or robots which simulate and act as substitutes for human labor or movement. In January 2022, Tmsuk presented a showcase at CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, where they introduced “Pedia_Roid,” a pediatrics patient robot.

Designed for medical training, Pedia_Roid simulates the jittery movements of a child. Although its expected use cases are mainly in the dental treatment area, further developments will allow for trainees to perform cardiac massage, blood drawing, pupil checking, and other treatments on the robot. Fukuoka Dental College is currently using Pedia_Roid for training, and Tmsuk is currently receiving further inquiries even internationally for this robot. Demand for Pedia_Roid is expected to increase, especially in developing countries with an urgent need to train healthcare professionals.

Tmsuk’s other works in the medical field also include the development of a monitoring robot for nursing facilities, which can patrol rooms at night and report any abnormalities detected through its cameras and sensors.

As population aging accelerates, especially among developed countries, demand for workroids in nursing homes and medical care facilities are expected to further rise. Since workroids are mainly small robots that work with humans through AI communication, it is an area where Japanese skillfulness and meticulous attention becomes an advantage.

(Sachiko Hijikata, journalist)

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