Tokyo-based Business Breakthrough University (BBT) held a virtual graduation ceremony last 28 March by having robots stand in for students who could not attend due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Graduating students who could not attend the ceremony at the Hotel Grand Palace in Tokyo were asked to call in using Zoom. The few physical attendees at the venue controlled the robots that went up on stage to receive the diplomas.
The robots were dressed in graduation caps and gowns to play the part of graduating students and the customizable avatars were replaced by pictures of the students being called on stage. The student on the video call is then transferred to the robot that is approaching University president Omae Kenichi so that they can experience receiving the diploma. The ceremony was made possible by ANA Groups remote-controlled “Newme” robot.
Apart from the use of remote-controlled robots, the ceremony was conducted as traditionally as possible. Professor Shugo Yanaka, Dean of Global Business Administration who planned the ceremony, hopes that BBT University’s ceremony will inspire other institutions who hold similar events. BBT University joins a few other schools all over the world that have made use of technology to conduct their graduation ceremonies.