Photo/IllutrationA foreign tourist seeks directions to Osaka Castle from a robot with AI capabilities at JR Osaka Station on Oct. 2. (Yoshikatsu Nakajima)

  • Photo/Illustraion

OSAKA--An AI robot schooled in the art of travel completed its trial duty at JR Osaka Station earlier this month to help foreign tourists find their way.

The robot was introduced by West Japan Railway Co. (JR West) from Oct. 2 to 4, as part of a number of studies of AI systems for sightseers to enhance customer services.

When addressed in Japanese or English, the robotic guide showed passengers where to change trains for key tourist destinations, such as Umeda Sky Building and Tsutenkaku Tower.

The device "learns” how questions are asked through conversations with non-Japanese, according to JR West.

The robot can guide visitors to restrooms and other facilities on the station premises.

JR West also tested a display-type system featuring AI at Osaka Station from Oct. 16 to 18.

Tourists can speak or use the touchscreen to communicate with the device.

The railway operator will install another type of robot guide and AI system at Kyoto Station from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1 and from Nov. 13 to 15, respectively.

JR West will consider putting such devices into practical use after studying the results of the trial.