Toyota Motor Corporation have recently announced an
overview of the project to develop partner robots designed to function as
personal assistants for humans.
Expected to be unveiled at expo 2005 the partner robots will come in 3
types (humanoid, rolling and a mountable type that can transport people).
Toyota claim, since its inception, Toyota has carried out its corporate
activities based on the spirit of “contributing to society through making
things and making automobiles.” At the same time, people around the globe
are starting to crave better, more diversified lifestyles. These changes
are particularly prominent in Japan where dwindling birth rates and a
rapidly aging population are underscoring concerns regarding the need to
secure a stable labour 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. Furthermore, since each area
requires a special set of skills, Toyota is promoting the development of
three different types of partner robots each with its own areas of
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
To improve the robots interaction with society special attention has been
focused on the robots design. Toyota developed artificial lips that move
with the same finesse as human lips, which, together with robots’ hands,
enables the robots to play trumpets like humans do. Through the expanded
development of the driving control technologies for automobiles, Toyota
came up with the new stabilizing technologies for robots. A 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, “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.