Looking Toward the Next Ten Years
The first Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Professor Emeritus, The University of Electro-Communications, Japan
As its first issue was published in 1989, the Journal of Robotics and Mechatronics (JRM) has been in existence for 30 years. Its entrance into its fourth decade this year coincides with the change in the name of the Japanese era, marking a joyous milestone. During the three decades since the JRM was founded, much progress has been made in the areas covered by it, and these areas have expanded to encompass very diverse fields.
It was around 1988, when I was at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), that I received a letter from Kazuo Yamafuji, later the first Editor-in-Chief of the editorial board, stressing the need for a journal such as the JRM. I gladly joined the committee to discuss its publication, and after attending a few meetings, I witnessed its successful launch. I served as the Deputy Editorin- Chief of the editorial board.
Prior to that time, robots had mainly inhabited the world of science fiction and were not recognized as a technological subject within an academic discipline, except in the field of factory automation. The robots that did exist were usually thought of in a recreational context. Meanwhile, the general trend in academic and engineering disciplines was toward specialization and segmentation, with engineering splitting into mechanical, electronic, and other branches, each becoming progressively isolated from the others. Yet, those working in areas related to product development and manufacturing were expected not only to have knowledge of several engineering disciplines but also to integrate them in applying them. These engineers/technicians were treated as unoriginal emulators existing outside of the conventional systematized and specialized fields, and they were regarded as heretics with no suitable field to represent in making presentations at professional or academic conferences. Even if they hoped to publicize their research findings, there were no professional/academic journals that could provide a proper peer review.
It was under these circumstances that the word “mechatronics” was coined in Japan, where it gained currency and also came to earn some recognition in the English-speaking world. Founded at just the right time, the JRM contributed to the spread and growth of mechatronics. Subsequently, the term came to denote, in addition to its original meaning of the integration of mechanics, electronics, and information science, the fusion of widely diverse technologies in human sciences, social sciences, and medicine. In this context, it is my ardent hope that the JRM, in its fourth decade, will increase its presence as a journal that remains unconstrained by conventional specialties and accepts papers and articles that deal with as-yet-unestablished areas that cross multiple fields, contributing to their dissemination.
At the time the JRM was founded, Keiji Hayashi was president of Fuji Technology Press Ltd., the organization that annually presents the JRM Best Paper Award. Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of 90 on March 19, 2017, before he could see the JRM’s 30th anniversary. Some time before he passed, he telephoned me to say that he hoped the JRM would continue to widely encompass and nurture as-yet-unknown areas. On this occasion of the 30th anniversary of the JRM, I wish to pay my respects and express my deep gratitude to Mr. Hayashi, who provided his own funds to support its publication. I pray that his soul may rest in peace, and I sincerely hope that the JRM continues to make great strides in the coming decade.