Preferred Networks has built Mechano-Workshop, a rapid prototyping facility for developing robotic hands and verifying simulation results in the real world

Feb. 26, 2019, Tokyo Japan – Preferred Networks, Inc. (PFN, Head Office: Tokyo, President & CEO: Toru Nishikawa) has established a mechanical engineering workshop called Mechano-Workshop in Tokyo’s Otemachi district, where its headquarters are located. This rapid prototyping facility will allow PFN to quickly test-manufacture hardware, such as robot hands, and test them, enabling PFN to research and develop robotic software and hardware and accelerate practical applications of new technologies.

Software in the field of robotics is undergoing rapid evolution in areas such as perception and control, thanks to the advancement of machine learning and deep learning technologies. To leverage these software advances, PFN has built the rapid prototyping Mechano-Workshop near its headquarters, to quickly fabricate and test robot hardware. Because computer simulations cannot capture all the detail of a real environment, PFN intends to fast-prototype hardware in the workshop and confirm how it moves in the real world. PFN believes that the speed of software development can be applied to its hardware development, by repeating an accelerated cycle of rapid prototyping and improvement. Further, PFN hopes to accelerate new technical innovations by providing a place where software and hardware engineers can work closely and learn from each other.

PFN develops the open-sourced deep learning framework Chainer™ and the deep learning processor MN-Core™ with the aim of applying machine learning and deep learning technologies to the real world. In robotics, one of its primary business areas, PFN is developing a fully autonomous tidying-up robot and other personal robots for practical use, as well as collaborating with FANUC to make robots and machine tools intelligent.

PFN plans to prototype and test a broad range of hardware for each of its product families, including robot hands, attachments, and experimental equipment, in Mechano-Workshop.

Photos: Inside Mechano-Workshop


The following machine tools have been or will be installed in the workshop;

  • Five-axis machining center
  • Three-axis machining center
  • NC milling machine
  • General-purpose lathe
  • Carbon 3D printer
  • Fused filament fabrication 3D printer
  • Stereolithography 3D printer


PFN will continue to create an environment for software and hardware engineers to learn from each other and enhance their expertise and skills. This will promote the advancement of both software and hardware and accelerate practical applications of new technologies.

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