‘Go home’ drone seeks to stop Ja­panese work­ing late

The Herald (South Africa) - - WORLD - Miwa Suzuki

A DRONE that hov­ers over Ja­panese em­ploy­ees and blares mu­sic to force them to go home was un­veiled yes­ter­day, as the coun­try tries to re­duce its no­to­ri­ously long work­ing hours.

The “T-Frend” buzzes over those try­ing to work late, blast­ing out the strains of Auld Lang Syne, a Scot­tish tune typ­i­cally used in Ja­pan to an­nounce that a store is clos­ing.

“You can’t re­ally work when you think ‘it’s com­ing over any time now’ and hear Auld Lang Syne along with the buzz,” Nori­hiro Kato, a di­rec­tor at Tai­sei, an of­fice se­cu­rity and clean­ing firm that co-de­vel­oped the sys­tem, said.

The drone is equipped with a cam­era, which stores footage on an SD card. Of­fice scenes can also be mon­i­tored from a re­mote lo­ca­tion.

The ma­chine recog­nises its lo­ca­tion on a build­ing floor with­out GPS.

It takes off from its port, makes a sur­veil­lance flight on a pre-set path and then re­turns au­tonomously.

Tai­sei plans to start the T-Frend ser­vice in April in col­lab­o­ra­tion with drone sys­tem de­vel­oper Blue In­no­va­tion and tele­coms op­er­a­tor NTT East.

T-Frend’s de­vel­op­ers are also study­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of giv­ing the drone fa­cial recog­ni­tion tech­nol­ogy to tell who is in the of­fice af­ter hours.

Ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cials at many com­pa­nies push over­timers out the door, but this has iron­i­cally re­sulted in these of­fi­cials work­ing over­time them­selves, to say noth­ing of caus­ing fric­tion be­tween em­ploy­ees.

Ja­pan’s gov­ern­ment has been try­ing to change a cul­ture in which work­ing long hours is per­ceived as proof of loy­alty and ded­i­ca­tion.

Ev­ery year, long hours are blamed for dozens of deaths due to strokes, heart at­tacks and sui­cides.

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