Toyota wants to provide a robot associate in every home

Toyota Motor Corp. has sold a lot of cars to see a car in front of every Japanese home. Now its dream is to put robots indoors.

Popular for its automatic assembly lines, Toyota has the vision to use robots to excel the factory and become a common thing in homes, assisting with chores and even providing company for the aging society where millions of seniors stay alone.

Today people are living smarter life due to the advancements of the machines. But, every attempt to make a machine which can reduce the work pressure faces different problems. To make its effort successful, Toyota is going to start a new artificial intelligence research center and a well-respected inventor, Gill Pratt.

“This is a company with so many resources that you can never ignore them,” said Morten Paulsen, a Tokyo-based analyst at CLSA Japan Securities Co., who’s covered the robotics industry for decades.

By doing experiments with robots since 2004, Toyota disclosed a trumpet-playing humanoid with artificial lips, lungs and movable fingers which could come with an actual human orchestra.

Toyota’s most recent android, the T-HR3, is a special type of gadget which can be controlled distantly through wearable controls. Its aim is to allow users to see through the machine’s camera-eyes. One day the device could serve as arms and legs for the bed-ridden, or as a replacement for relief workers in disaster zones. Last year, the company modernized its Partner Robot division to improve the speed of decision-making and cut down growth time.

The way to robots has had its delays. In 2011, Toyota showed a machine for lifting patients in and out of bed, but engineers had only tested it on healthy volunteers. After knowing the problem, they concluded that the elderly required a more delicate touch, the product was dropped. Similarly, a personal scooter that resembled a Segway, found promising in trials but was not allowed on the streets by authoritarian hitches.

Boston Dynamics, a ballyhooed firm founded by engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent more than 12 years developing four-legged automatons but till the date they are failed to be commercialized. According to Toyota, the requirement for elder care will change and it demonstrates his point with a chart showing Japan’s inverted age-pyramid in the year 2050, when a third fewer workers will have to assist twice as many old people as today.

The automaker perceives Toyota’s Human Support Robot, or HSR of making the jump from lab to living room. The robot-equivalent of a Corolla — all function and no accompaniments. The HSR is mainly a retractable arm on wheels with a video screen on top and two large camera eyes that give it the essentials of a face.

Though, its weight is around a half-dozen bowling balls, but is able to lift a 1.2-kilogram payload, just like a medium-sized water bottle. As it is loaded with the right software, it can do some appealing things.

In a demo, the robot could to identify the books; pens and other items kept on a shelf, and could clean a messed room. The machine set a pair of slippers perfectly on the floor by using its sensor-eyes and its pincer.

Toyota wouldn’t say about the supply of home helpers to the consumers, but adviser Masanori Sugiyama, a former top manager in the robot program, says the HSR could be prepared for hospitals and rest homes within two or three years to do simple tasks like cleaning or delivering meals. People will have to wait longer for machines with more intense skills.

“They need to be able to understand what people are thinking and have empathy,” Sugiyama said. “The idea is for the robot to be a friend.”