Since late August Kutaragi has been working as the CEO of Tokyo’s Ascent Robotics, an AI startup company which is aiming to make affordable robots that can safely do physical work alongside humans in factories and logistics centers.
In a new interview with Bloomberg, Kutaragi, 70, said he believes he can bring the same management qualities to robotics that he used to build the PlayStation business at Sony. He said he receives no salary to save precious capital for the startup.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has turned the old argument about robots taking our jobs on its head,” Kutaragi said. “It’s pretty clear now that if we want to arrive at a new normal, we need more and more robots in our daily lives.”
He added: “If you are looking to combine robotics and mobility, you need someone in charge who understands technology. We are thinking globally, not limiting our sights to Japan.”
Founded in 2016, Ascent employs about 50 engineers, and one of its first projects is a collaboration with Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. on a robotic arm and another collaboration with an unnamed company on autonomous driving software.
“If we don’t do it, someone else out there will,” Kutaragi said. “Management is tough, but that’s how it was with PlayStation too. It’s something I’m good at.”
Since leaving Sony in 2007, Kutaragi has sat on the boards of e-commerce firm Rakuten, app developer SmartNews and GA Technologies, which runs an AI-powered real estate listings website.
Kutaragi is best known as the architect of the original PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3. The engineer departed Sony in 2007 following the challenging launch of the third console, which is estimated to have initially cost Sony billions in losses.
Kutaragi has remained at Sony as senior technology advisor.
Kutaragi is perhaps best known for his hubristic statements during the era of PlayStation’s first three consoles, including referring to Xbox 360 as “just an Xbox 1.5″ and suggesting that PlayStation fans should work longer hours to be able to afford a $599 PS3.