TOKYO – The Japanese firm Yakafujisumiyosoki – a leader in the manufacture of motorcycle bug shields, automobile antenna lifters and miniature nose cameras – is attempting to attract new workers to its recently-opened plant in Isuyu by offering day care for pet robots, humanoid robots and other robotic devices employees feel uncomfortable leaving at home alone.
According to a recent study by the Tokyo Institute For Robotic Psychology, many Japanese working couples don’t have the time for children or pets and instead spend thousands of dollars on child-like robots and robotic dogs, snakes and gerbils. Most of these robots sit in a corner all day turned off, causing stress to workers who feel guilty that their robots could be learning new tasks, cleaning the house or interacting with other robots. In addition, many workers use their sick leave, vacation days and personal time to take care of broken or non-functioning robots, driving them to repair clinics or waiting at home for house-call technicians.
Yakafujisumiyosoki is the first company to address these issues by providing a complete day care facility for its employees’ robots. The center has instructors to help the humanoids to learn a language, trainers to teach the robotic animals new tricks, and even a large dirty rug for robotic vacuums to clean. An on-site medical technician tightens screws, oils wheels, charges batteries and downloads software patches. The clinic is open round-the-clock and has a three-robot-per-employee limit. Employees with more than three robots can pay a small fee to have a baby-sitter robot delivered to their home.
In the six weeks the robot day care center has been open, Yakafujisumiyosoki has attracted over 10,000 new workers and has recorded record productivity levels. The center is so popular, a number of employees with children have wrapped them in aluminum foil and attempted to sneak them in as humanoids. They’re usually caught when they find out the restrooms have been turning into spray-painting and chrome-plating rooms.