Contrary to popular belief, not all of Japan's R&D goes intoand (or so we're told). In fact, it's not even all destined for the consumer market.
NEC, for example, has applied its technological prowess to "the world's first automated border control system that uses facial recognition technology capable of identifying people inside their automobiles," according to Pink Tentacle, and it's already being used at checkpoints between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The biometrics system was developed to break immigration logjams in China and elsewhere, checking chip-embedded national ID cards without required motorists to leave their cars. Automated cameras scan license plates as vehicles apprach, then apply the face-recognition software to make sure that the registered driver is behind the wheel.
What irony--systems like this might replace Japan's robots even before they have a chance to.