University uses robot avatars wearing gowns and face screens for graduation ceremony amid epidemic

Business BreakThrough University in Japan conducted a graduation ceremony for its students using robot avatars, complete with graduation gowns, caps and face screens.

The rampantly spreading coronavirus outbreak has shuttered schools, colleges and universities in countries across the globe, forcing students to study from home in a bid to contain the deadly virus. While lectures and exams can invariably be conducted remotely so that students can participate remotely, you would think graduation ceremonies would be ruled out given the current circumstances. However, a Japanese university has found a hi-tech way to ensure its students do not miss their graduation ceremony.

Robot avatars of students

Students at the Business BreakThrough University (BBT) risked having their graduation ceremony cancelled due to the global pandemic. However, the university came up with a brilliant solution.

Business BreakThrough university
Twitter / Solomon Kassa

The institution, which held its graduation ceremony on March 28, made special arrangements to have the students receive their credentials via digital robot "avatars" of themselves, complete with graduation caps, gowns and tablets with the students' faces on them.

The students were able to remotely control the robots, navigate them through the ceremony from the safety and comfort of their homes. The students drove their respective avatars up the stage, to the university's president, who handed them their certificates.

"When I enrolled, I never thought I would operate an avatar to attend the graduation ceremony," one of the students told LADBible. The event took place at a hotel in Tokyo and only featured four robots, while other students tuned into the ceremony through a Zoom call.

Making waves with its technology

Still, the avatars have made quite an impression, so much so the university believes this may urge other institutions to follow suit. "We hope this initiative will be helpful to educational institutions who are having difficulty holding graduation ceremonies and entrance ceremonies," Shugo Yanaka, the dean of BBT's global business administration, told LADBible.

The innovative graduation ceremony also drew the attention of several social media users, who expressed their thoughts over the hi-tech event.

"Due to the current quarantine measures, I've heard of remote studying," one Twitter user wrote. "But the Business Breakthrough University (BBT) in Japan took it a step further: Remote graduation!"

"Japan is a different kind of gravy," commented another. "Imagine going through 5 years of PhD grind and having a robot rep you to receive your diploma. Crazy times, creative solutions."

This isn't the first time robots have been used in a graduation ceremony. In 2018, University of Glasgow used similar methods to help three of its students receive their certificates remotely, as reported by the BBC.

Related topics : Coronavirus