No overtime for you! Music-blasting drone deters workers from staying late

You know that Japan has a serious problem with people working too much overtime when a company thinks there is enough demand to create a drone designed to chase workers out of the office at the end of each day. According to one recent study, Japan has some of the longest working hours in the world. Around one-quarter of Japanese companies employ staff who will pull upward of 80 hours of overtime every month. That places an enormous toll on people’s mental and physical well-being, and can actually lead to people literally working themselves to death in some cases.

Created by construction company Taisei and drone manufacturer Blue Innovations, the T-Frend drone patrols office buildings around closing time and “encourages” people to leave their desks and head home. To do this, it uses built-in speakers to blast out Traditional Japanese song Hotaru no Hikari, a tune more familiar to Westerners as the New Year’s Eve classic Auld Lang Syne. In Japan, this song is regularly played at the end of the school day or when stores are closing up, as a way to signal that people should leave as soon as possible.

The drone can also shoot footage and then upload it to a closed cloud service or store it on an onboard SD card. This serves a dual purpose: Both as a way of presumably identifying folks who lurk at their desks when they should be enjoying some valuable downtime, and also spotting potential intruders. It’s not clear exactly how the drone navigates around buildings, nor identifies who to blast with music, but this is not the first autonomous security drone we’ve seen — even if it’s one of the more unique applications.

The T-Frend drone isn’t yet publicly available, but according to the Japan Times, the two companies behind it hope to launch their new service in April. They are pricing their new service at a somewhat exorbitant 500,000 yen ($4,400) per month. Still, if it’s able to effectively replace the need for human security personnel working long night shifts and holidays, that sum could turn out to be worth it for all involved.

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