My research on robots focuses on robots and automated systems in urban and social spaces. It includes the whole range of non-industrial robot experimenting, from autonomous vehicles and delivery drones, healthcare robots, to social and service robots. I currently work on three projects: the politics of humanoid robots in Japan, the urban living labs for robot experiments with focus on Dubai, Singapore, California and Japan, and medical delivery drones in sub-Saharan Africa. I use mainly anthropological, historical and urban perspectives to research and analyse the ways that the politics, economics, and various sociocultural factors shape robots into part of the society.
My British Academy funded project on humanoid robots in Japan aims to understand the new eugenic processes in societal robotisation by tracing historical antecedents and conducting ethnography in contemporary Japan. By using reverse anthropology or robot anthropology, the purpose of the research is to understand the ways that the state government is intervening and reshaping the society through national and industrial robotic agendas.
I also specialise in the history of technology and science in Europe and Japan, particularly in the Edo period (1603 – 1868). I look at how have the epistemological systems honzōgaku and Rangaku shaped the material popular culture and knowledge production, and vice versa. Rather than focusing on the intellectual ideas and dominant paradigms, I look at material objects as assemblages of the diverse ways of seeing, understanding, and materialising the world.