A university in Japan has decided to cancel its graduation ceremony, due to social distancing measures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead a team of robots, with iPads for faces, are standing in for the students and collecting diplomas on their behalf.

Going by the name ‘Newme’, the robots have been developed by ANA Holdings as a tech-based solution, so that students wouldn’t have to travel to and from the Business Breakthrough University (BBT) in the capital city of Tokyo.

The ‘avatar robots’ are very lifelike, appearing in graduation gowns and caps themselves as students control their motions remotely from home using computers.

Avatar robots at university graduation-BBT University


“We knew that there were lots of students who would like to attend the graduation ceremony but wouldn’t be able to do so due to Coronavirus concern,” Professor Shugo Yanaka, Dean of the Department of Global Management at BBT University told Euronews Living. “I suddenly came up with an idea of Avatar Graduation Ceremony,” he says, adding that he wanted it to be like a “teleportation experience.”

Professor Yanaka first raised the idea at a faculty meeting held in February and managed to bring the project to life in only one and a half months. This should be a “positive message” to the world, Yanaka concludes, saying that he hopes it will “energise people who would like to find a breakthrough to organise ceremonies/events” in this difficult period.

A video has been made documenting the day:



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