Robots replace university students in Zoom graduation ceremony

Newme telepresence robots stand in for university students at graduation, due to concerns over the coronavirus in Japan.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
2 min read

Students attend graduation at BBT University in Japan via telepresence robots.

BBT University

Can't be at a big life event because of the coronavirus? Send in the robots . These Japanese university students refused to let the coronavirus lockdowns get in the way of celebrating their graduation ceremony. 

Business Breakthrough (BBT) University graduate students in Tokyo, who weren't allowed to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to coronavirus concerns, used Newme telepresence robots (also referred to as avatar robots) to stand in their place. 

Digital tablets were attached to the heads of the robots, showing the faces of students who used a Zoom conference call to attend the graduation ceremony remotely. The event took place at the Hotel Grand Palace in Tokyo on March 28, according to Business Insider on Sunday. 

Keeping in theme, the robots were also dressed in black hats and gowns for the graduation ceremony. 


BBT University President Kenichi Omae poses with the students who are using telepresence robots to attend graduation.

BBT University

One of the unnamed students said in a statement on March 31, "When I enrolled, I never thought I would operate my avatar and attend the graduation ceremony. However, receiving a diploma in public is a novel experience."

The Newme telepresence robots aren't just useful for attending graduations, they also come in handy if you want to travel without leaving home.

Last year, All Nippon Airways revealed that it would use Newme telepresence robots to allow people to experience faraway places without having to travel there in person. The robots would transmit high-definition 2K videos that let its human users see and interact with the bot's surroundings.

Newme robots have also helped people with debilitating paralysis to return to the workplace as robot waiters in Japanese cafes.  

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