Auto Service World
News   March 15, 2004   by Auto Service World

Toyota Announces Personal Care Robot Project

Tokyo-based Toyota Motor Corporation has announced an overview of the project to develop partner robots designed to function as personal assistants for humans.
Toyota notes a large potemtoial market in Japan where dwindling birth rates and a rapidly aging population are underscoring concerns regarding the need to secure a stable labor force for the future in order for its people to be able to enjoy comfortable standards of living.
Focusing on these issues, Toyota is promoting the development of human-assisting partner robots using the collective experience cultivated by the Toyota Group in automotive development and production engineering.
Toyota wants its partner robots to have human characteristics, such as being agile, warm and kind and also intelligent enough to skillfully operate a variety of devices in the areas of personal assistance, care for the elderly, manufacturing, and mobility. Since each area requires a special set of skills, Toyota is promoting the development of three different types of partner robots (walking, rolling, and mountable), each with its own areas of expertise.
This initial announcement of Toyota’s development of partner robots will be followed by an exhibition of the results as part of the entertainment lineup for the Toyota Group Pavilion at the Expo 2005, Aichi, Japan, starting in March of the same year. Toyota plans to continue focusing the energy of the Toyota Group to further utilize their wealth of technical experience in automotive development and production to expand the usefulness of these robots while broadening their functions and areas of application.
The walking model walks on two legs similar to a person, making it easy to become accustomed to. It is able to use its hands to carry out a wide variety of tasks. The rolling model zooms along quickly without taking up much space. It is also able to use its hands to carry out a wide variety of tasks. The mountable model is capable of carrying its passengers almost anywhere they need to go. According to the campany, it is also fun to ride and operate.
Through expanded development of the driving control technologies for automobiles, Toyota came up with new stabilizing technologies for robots. Small, light-weight and low-cost high-precision-sensors, developed based upon automotive sensor technology, are used as an attitude sensor that detects a tilt of a robot.
In addition to the above technologies, a “wire-operation system”, is being developed. The actuators as power sources are located on its torso, and wires are used to move the arms and legs. As a result, the weight of the arms and legs can be reduced, adding limberness and speed to the motion.

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