Some of the world’s most ingenious robotic inventions were showcased at the tail-end of 2015 in Tokyo at the International Robot Exhibition, setting the precedent for what’s to come in the year ahead.

More than 450 organisations showed the world what they had to offer, with the main themes highlighting how robots and automated technologies can be used for disaster relief, entertainment, assisting the elderly and farming, plus generally making everyday life much easier.

Showing the softer side of metal and wires

An ever-popular type of robot that has strong representation at the International Robot Exhibition is the emotional robot. These robots aim to understand, interpret and display human emotion.

Some robots will even make small talk to attempt to ease the minds of their owners if they detect distress, or celebrate happiness if they hear it in their owner’s voice.

The robot drawing a large amount of attention in this category was ‘Pepper’, a robot that recently sold its first run of 1000 units in less than a minute. Pepper is designed to talk to humans, offer advice, and generally be a solid companion.

With great power comes great responsibility

Another theme which saw a great deal of interest was disaster relief. With Japan being so prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters, there were a number of robots aimed at easing the human load in these crisis situations.

These included ‘Jaxon’, a robot that analyses the terrain around him and plots his way forward to rescue people in danger. With a host of robots like Jaxon on the show, our future looks to be in good, metallic hands.

Another invention showcased at the biennial event was the aquatic HiBot ACM-R5H, AKA Mechapythonoides Amphibia. It’s a snake-like creature that can not only explore flooded areas, but can additionally transform into an art installation.

The usual suspects

The show wasn’t just about the fantastical though. Alongside these weird and wonderful automated creatures hoping to transform our lives, there was also a collection of robots that improve the efficiency of manufacturing and farming, with Kawaski showing off its car painting robots and Apple/Tesla supplier Fanuc that creates machines to lift heavy objects and make menial tasks a breeze.

The International Robot Exhibition is turning heads and shaping dialogue in the technology world. Before we know it, robots such as Pepper could be in our homes aiding us and helping us feel better, and descendants of Jaxon could save our lives when disaster strikes. For now, we can be content just marvelling at the wonders of the International Robot Exhibition.