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Friend or foe: Will Toyota robot aid or challenge humans?

21 November 2017

T-HR3 represents an evolution from previous generation instrument-playing humanoid robots, which were created to test the precise positioning of joints and pre-programmed movements, to a platform with capabilities that can safely assist humans in a variety of settings, such as the home, medical facilities, construction sites, disaster-stricken areas and even outer space. Yes, kind of like a jaeger from kaiju movie Pacific Rim.

A VR headset picks up camera feeds from the robot's face allowing for it to be controlled even when it's out of sight.

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Not only do you strap your arms into braces with sensors on every joint, giving you total control of the T-HR3's arms, but you also have sensors on your feet allowing you to control walking forwards and sideways by lifting and placing your feet. And if we happen to need to defend against inter-dimensional kaiju invaders, at least now we have a path to make that happen. "Looking ahead, the core technologies developed for this platform will help inform and advance future development of robots to provide ever-better mobility for all".

Toyota has been developing industrial robots since the 1980s. If the operator raises an arm, the robot mimics the movement precisely, and a "data glove" caters for grasping and gripping objects.

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With the help of more than 40 sensors, a human operator can take full control of the T-HR3's bodily functions. The video shows off T-HR3 practicing its balance, and sensitively picking up a ball without popping it, although there's nothing in the demo that matches the backflipping Boston Dynamics robot - yet. The automaker, which used its expertise in automotive technologies to design the device, says the robot can be used to assist doctors, caregivers, patients, the elderly and people who are physically challenged. The Torque Servo Module has been developed in collaboration with Tamagawa Seiki Co., Ltd. and NIDEC COPAL ELECTRONICS CORP.

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Friend or foe: Will Toyota robot aid or challenge humans?