The following are comments from METI Minister Mr. Nishimura, a video of the award ceremony, and interviews with the award-winning members.
■ Outline of the award ceremony
The 9th Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award was held on 23rd January 2023. Out of 289 entries, thirteen were selected to receive the Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Award. Five engineers from Rapyuta, out of seven award-winning members, attended the award ceremony and received their awards directly from Minister Mr. Nishimura.
*Related press release: here
*² Monodzukuri: manufacturing in Japanese
■ Remarks from Minister Mr. Nishimura
At the beginning of the awards ceremony, Minister Mr. Nishimura stated in his speech: ‘Data, software, and algorithms have value, and business in virtual space, such as the metaverse, will expand in the future. However, ‘Monodzukuri’ is essential to change the real world. I expect that the power of data and ‘Monodzukuri’ will be crossed to create further innovation in DX. We will continue to support them.” His words were encouraging to the audience.
During the speech, he also introduced the company, saying that the picking robot developed by Rapyuta Robotics can reduce human workloads at logistics warehouses, where labor shortages are a serious issue.
We are committed to expanding our business and accelerating our development to fulfill the expectations of many future customers.
■ Profile of the award-winning members
The following seven are core members who have contributed to Rapyuta’s success since its establishment and have ensured business growth.
・Gajan: Co-founder and CEO
・Arul: Co-founder and CFO
・Praveen: Engineering manager
・Michael: Engineering manager
・Yu: Senior software engineer
・Christof: Senior software engineer
・Gautham: Senior software engineer
■ Interview with the award-winning members
Q1. Congratulations on winning the Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award ‘Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award’! Please tell us how you feel about receiving the award and your experience at the award ceremony.
Japan is known for “Monodzukuri”, this is one of the reasons I came to study engineering. We felt grateful, honored, and thankful for all the support from our customers, investors, and government funding agencies. We also felt the responsibility to use the recognition to make a positive impact on society and push forward Japan’s Monodzukuri.
I feel very honored to receive such an award for Rapyuta Robotics out of so many companies. The award ceremony proceeded peacefully during the rehearsal. But once Minister Mr. Nishimura arrived, the rehearsal was over and I was nervous and excited to share the stage.
Q2. What was your impression of Minister Mr. Nishimura’s speech where he mentioned Rapyuta?
It was rewarding to hear that the potential of our robots to contribute to society is being recognized by such a high public figure. I hope that through our efforts to improve and establish our products, Minister Mr. Nishimura and many others will be confident enough to introduce Rapyuta Robotics in their future speeches.
I felt honored to be mentioned in his speech. I was reassured that we will continue to strive to use our technologies, including robotics, not only in the field of logistics but also in various other areas, to solve social challenges such as the shortage of human resources.
Q3. What was the most difficult part of developing and utilizing the award-winning achievement rayputa.io?
The biggest challenge in providing a solution using rapyuta.io, the Picking Assist Robot (Rapyuta PA-AMR), was the scaling phase, not the early development phase. Nationwide scaling requires an increase in the number of robots installed while accelerating the speed to go into actual operation, ensuring safety and flawless operation. Furthermore, the necessary data (ex: dashboards) must be provided promptly so that all customers can analyze the operational status of robots in their warehouses, check cost-effectiveness, and discover areas for operational improvement. To meet these needs, the software on rapyuta.io has been enhanced one by one based on customer feedback. In addition, thanks to rapyuta.io in the cloud, support for warehouse operations can be carried out remotely as long as the robots are connected to the internet. This saves costs and time for both customers and the company. We hope to continue to be chosen by warehouse operations and contribute to reducing the workload and increasing the productivity of warehouse staff.
One of the most challenging aspects of utilizing rapyuta.io was ensuring that the cloud-connected robots could operate in situations where the network connection in the robot’s remote site is unstable. Often, there are intermittent network outages and these can cause issues with cloud-connected robots. Ensuring that the robots could operate during these outages and also during local network partition events proved to be challenging during the initial adoption of the system.
An additional difficult aspect was enabling the support of heterogeneous robots in a single site. Our deployments mainly involve homogeneous robots, but there are cases where we have different robots operating together. Designing the system in such a way to support this mixed-type operation posed some novel challenges for us.
Finally, one of the more complex problems we encountered was data collection from the robots. Due to a large number of robots per site, the volume of data generated is massive and it is not feasible to send it all to the cloud to store. However, this data is extremely valuable as it gives us an unparalleled insight into the environments our robots operate in and this insight allows us to improve the quality of our robotics software immensely. Hence, data collection is an essential but difficult part of the operation of this type of system.
Q4. How do you plan to contribute to the world by using rapyuta.io to promote robotics?
As mentioned in our mission statement we want to empower the lives of people, especially the ones that do 3D work. We would like to build a highly flexible connected multi-robot system that can do all the 3D work and let people work on more creative things.
*3D: dull, dirty, and dangerous
The Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Awards are held every two years, and the winners are selected after an examination period of more than one year. This time, we won the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award, but next time we would like to challenge the Prime Minister’s Award with a new product.
We will continue to lead the robotics industry with our core purpose “Empowering lives with connected machines.”