Drone Developed to Force Employees to Stop Overtime Work

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. hover / ˈhʌv ər / (v) – to float in the air

    The toy helicopter hovered above the fields for 10 minutes.

  2. impede / ɪmˈpid / (v) – to prevent or slow down the progress of someone or something

    The employees are against the installation of the office TV because it can impede productivity.

  3. feasibility / ˈfi zə ˈbɪl ɪ ti / (n) – the possibility of getting something done

    The company conducted a trial to determine the feasibility of using the new product.

  4. preposterous / prɪˈpɒs tər əs, -trəs / (adj) – foolish; ridiculous

    Most users found the new app preposterous because of its expensive monthly subscription.

  5. mundane / mʌnˈdeɪn / (adj) – common; uninteresting

    I get demotivated whenever I do mundane tasks like updating the office directory.


Read the text below.

Office security firm Taisei has developed T-frend, a drone that aims to combat overtime work.

T-frend is Taisei’s collaboration project with drone system developer Blue Innovation and telecommunications operator NTT East Japan. A Taisei representative said that the innovation is a response to concerns pertaining to employees’ excessive overtime work.

The drone works by hovering over employees while playing Auld Lang Syne [AWLD lang ZAHYN], a tune used to signal store or office closing. The distraction is expected to impede concentration, forcing the employees to end their tasks.

The drone is equipped with sensors that allow autonomous movement and navigation around the office while maintaining a certain flying height. In addition, its security features can capture and store footage through its camera and memory card, respectively.

T-frend’s developers are also looking into the feasibility of incorporating a facial recognition feature into the drone to identify employees who frequently work overtime. This function will also enable T-frend to detect intruders, giving the device a dual purpose.

The drone was first unveiled last December, but it will be out on the market in April 2018. According to Taisei director Norihiro Kato, the drone is expected to cost around ¥500,000.

While the technology looks promising, T-frend was not well-received by some critics. Some perceived the drone as a preposterous idea. They said that it will not effectively address the issue of overtime work because it will only add up to the pressure of getting tasks done at a certain time. What needs to be done, according to critics, is to lessen the employees’ workload and time allocation for mundane tasks.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think T-Frend will be effective in reducing overtime work? Why or why not?
• If you were to develop another device that can help reduce overtime work, what would it be? Describe.

Discussion B

• What are the possible challenges that come with depending on technology to address employee concerns (e.g. productivity, overtime work)? Give details.
• In what situations is it recommended to depend on technology at work? Discuss.