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How Japan’s Unique Relationship with Robots is About to Make it #1 Again

By Tim Romero: Serial startup founder in Japan and indomitable innovator

Japan had been a global leader in robotics for decades, but recently the traditional Japanese leaders have been losing ground to the better-funded and better-publicized firms coming out of America and China. Mujin is changing that. While iRobot and Boston Dynamics have been grabbing headlines and YouTube views, Mujin has been quietly breaking ground with a series of real-world commercial successes in deploying the next generation of industrial robots. Perhaps Mujin's largest achievement to date has been their project for Chinese e-commerce giant JD, in which they developed the world's first fully-automated logistics warehouse where robots unload the trucks, stock the shelves, and them pick and pack the items for shipment without human intervention. Today we talk with Issei Takino, who founded Mujin with his co-founder Rosen Diankov, and he explains why Japan looks at robots in a fundamentally different way than Western countries do, and how that will lead to a significant competitive advantage. It's an interesting conversation, and I think you'll enjoy it. Show Notes How to get the ecosystem to adopt your platform Why robots have not yet taken over industry (or the world) How to get your first customers in robotics How to get feedback from reluctant Japanese customers When being a Japanese startup is an advantage How America and Japan view robotics and automation differently Advice for starting companies with multi-cultural teams The critical differences between Japanese and American universities Links from the Founder Everything you ever wanted to know about Mujin Friend Issei on Facebook See Mujin's robots in action Video of Mujin's automated logistics warehouse (this is very cool) [shareaholic app="share_buttons" id="7994466"] Leave a comment Transcript Welcome to Disrupting Japan, Straight Talk from Japan's most successful entrepreneurs. I'm Tim Romero and thanks for joining me. Today we're going to talk about robots, specifically industrial robots. Now Japan has been a global leader in robotics for decades, but in recent years, Japanese firms seem to be losing ground to the better funded and better publicized companies coming out of the US and China. Well today we're going to sit down with the founder of a company that is already starting to change that. Issei Takino founded Mujin with his co-founder Rosen Diankov and they have developed a kind of android for industrial robots, that is to say, it's a generic operating system that works with almost any hardware and works far more effectively than anything else in the industry. Issei and I go into some of the details during the interview but perhaps the clearest illustration of Mujin success was a project, they did for Chinese e-commerce giant JD. They developed the world's first fully automated logistics warehouse. It's a massive facility but almost no humans work there. Robots unload the trucks, stock the shelves, pick the items for delivery and then pack them and ship them out. It's hard to explain in an audio podcast, so check out the video. We've got a link at the site and it's really amazing to watch. Issei and I also talked about how Japan and the West look at robots very differently and how that might be holding America back. He also shares his experience and advice about founding and running a start-up as a multinational team and we talked about why these kinds of Japanese foreign partnerships are going to become more common and more important in the coming years. But you know, Issei tells that story much better than I can, so let's get right to the interview. [pro_ad_display_adzone id="1404"  info_text="Sponsored by"  font_color="grey" ] Tim: All right! So I'm sitting here with Issei Takino of Mujin, the maker of controllers for industrial robots. So thanks for sitting down with me. Issei: Oh! It's my pleasure, thank you, thank you for inviting.

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