JAPAN: Toyota wants more robots

By just-auto.com editorial team | 6 December 2007

Toyota has announced that aims to realise the practical use of human-assisting partner robots in the early 2010s.

Toyota has unveiled two types of new robot, a 'mobility robot' and a 'violin-playing robot,' in Tokyo.

The Japanese automaker, which celebrated the 70th anniversary of its foundation last month, is aiming to foster the robotic business into one of its core operations by 2020.

The mobility robot, which is capable of autonomous movement over uneven ground and around obstacles, provides transport in places where people usually walk; the violin-playing robot, equipped with a total of 17 joints in both of its hands and arms, uses precise control and coordination to achieve human-like dexterity.

Toyota Partner Robots are envisioned to assist people in four main fields: 1) domestic duties, 2) nursing and healthcare, 3) manufacturing and 4) short-distance personal transport.

To this end, Toyota says its primary developmental focuses are on technology that works in harmony with people — such as that for assistance devices that can help move heavy instruments in a factory, on mobility technology for autonomous movement, on full-body coordination for walking and jumping and on tool manipulation.

Toyota's robot ambitions echo those of Honda, which has invested considerable sums in developing robot technology - highlighted by its ASIMO prototype.

Labour shortages in Japan have boosted interest in robotic solutions to a range of tasks currently performed by humans.

See also: Robomop