PlayStation inventor starts making robots free of charge

Kutaragi, 'father of PlayStation' is the new chief executive officer of an artificial intelligence startup


Tech Desk November 02, 2020
PHOTO: AFP

Legendary PlayStation inventor Ken Kutaragi is beginning a career in robotics and he's doing it pro bono.

The renowned “Father of PlayStation”, Kutaragi, 70, played a chief role in the invention of the Sony game console in 1994 and the PlayStation 2 in 2000. Kutaragi, is the new chief executive officer of a Tokyo-based artificial intelligence startup, Ascent Robotics.

Kutaragi hopes to create inexpensive robots that can safely move around and do physical work alongside humans in factories and logistics centers and is aiming to develop a functional prototype within a year.

“The Covid-19 outbreak has turned the old argument about robots taking our jobs on its head,” Kutaragi said in his first interview since taking the helm in August.

“It’s pretty clear now that if we want to arrive at a new normal, we need more and more robots in our daily lives.”

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The company is also developing autonomous driving software in collaboration with an unnamed Japanese carmaker.

Ascent uses a combination of data from sensor-studded Lexus hybrids cruising Tokyo’s streets and simulations where the algorithms are trained to handle so-called edge-case scenarios.

Kutaragi is hoping to combine autonomous driving and collaborative robots, “If you are looking to combine robotics and mobility, you need someone in charge who understands technology,” Kutaragi said.

“We are thinking globally, not limiting our sights to Japan.”

“Mr Kutaragi is a legend in the gaming industry. He beat entrenched competitors who had been in the business for years, like Nintendo and Sega,” said Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg.

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Kutaragi has served as Ascent’s outside board director since 2018 and took over the CEO post in August and owns about 22% of the company.

“If we don’t do it, someone else out there will,” Kutaragi said.

“Management is tough, but that’s how it was with PlayStation too. It’s something I’m good at.”

At age 70, he is working on revolutionizing the robotic industry by creating affordable robots.

This article originally published on Bloomberg.

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