Toyota Develops Robots for Elderly Care; Mass Production to Begin in 2019

11 Jul

Leading automobile manufacturer Toyota Motor is planning the mass production of its home robot as early as 2019, reported Nikkei. The home robots from Toyota will be used for the assistance and nursing of elderly people. By 2020, their total shipments are estimated to reach as high as 1,000 units.

The model, also known as Human Support Robot (HSR), was originally announced in 2012, and has since received a number of modifications . The robot has a 60 cm long robotic arm which can be controlled via mobile devices or by audio tones. Their main purpose is to help elderly people move and retrieve items. Aside from objects like pens and cups, HSR’s robotic arm is also capable of picking up ultra-thin items like paper.

The HSRs are being provided to clients like the University of Tokyo and other associations for around US $900 a month. After their mass production begins, ordinary families will also have a chance to rent the device.

The production of robots is generally aimed at advancing manufacturing and control technologies, explained Toyota. As such, to boost the overall functionality of its home robots, the automaker will be increasing its collaboration with external research associations and other enterprises.

The company’s ultimate goal for the future is to build a production line that makes approximately 300 robots a year and to allocate more and more of its R&D resources to the development of AI technology and home robot applications.

Since Toyota has been studying robots for a long time, its original plan with the robot project was to increase the production efficiency at its manufacturing plants. It wasn’t until later that the car maker officially decided to apply robot technology to other areas. To enhance its current R&D resource, Toyota reportedly also tried to bid for one of Google’s robotics division, Boston Dynamics, and the Japanese robotics company SCHAFT.

For the next five years, Toyota will invest up to US $1 billion in AI technology through its US subsidiary, Toyota Research Institute (TRI). It’s also expected that the company will expand the application of its AI technology to driverless cars.

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