updated 04:20 pm EST, Thu December 6, 2007
Toyota Home Robots in 2010
Toyota today said it would be one of the first companies to introduce helper robots into the home and began by revealing early forms of robots it expects to ultimately serve users. Known only as the partner robot, the humanoid model (shown at left) will ultimately help with tasks where the user is too busy or else incapable of performing themselves. Each limb has 17 separate joints that allow it to handle fine motor skills such as playing the violin. Future versions with more joints will not just help out with daily chores and entertainment but take care of the sick and even help the infirm move across significant distances, the car manufacturer says.
A second, mobility robot (right) is designed for long-distance movement and holds a seat for the owner. Unlike a wheelchair, it can navigate on its own and will follow more able users who may only need a ride in certain situations. It further recognizes inclines and will tilt to keep the owner seated upright on uneven surfaces.
Toyota hopes to have its first commercial robots based on these and other platforms by 2010 both at home and abroad; robotics will be a major focus of the company by 2020, the company claims. The move is in part a reflection of concerns over an increasingly aging Japanese society, 40 percent of whom may be over retirement age by 2055 and so might lack the help needed to take care of seniors with disabilities.