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Toyota Unveils Personal-transport, Violin-playing Robots

Personal-transport, Violin-playing RobotsTokyo — TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) unveiled today two new robots, a “Mobility Robot” and a “Violin-playing Robot”—the newest additions to its Toyota Partner Robots being developed to support people’s everyday life.

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 medical care, 3) manufacturing and 4) short-distance personal transport. To this end, TMC’s 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. The two robots presented today represent advances along these lines, with the mobility robot demonstrating achievements in field 4) and the violin-playing robot demonstrating achievements in fields 1) and 2).
Also, TMC announced today that it aims to realize practical use of Toyota Partner Robots in the early 2010s by furthering its robotic development and strengthening collaboration among industry, government and academia.

TMC, to help make future society healthy and comfortable, is pursuing sustainability in research and development, manufacturing and social contribution as part of its “three sustainabilities” concept. Toyota Partner Robot development, which involves TMC’s approach to making things—including its mobility, production and other technologies—is being carried out with this concept in mind and has thus far resulted in the various entertainment robots presented at the Toyota Group Pavilion during the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, as well as in a tour-guide robot that began operation earlier this year at the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall at TMC headquarters in Toyota City, also in Aichi Prefecture.

Outline of new Toyota Partner Robots

Name Mobility Robot Violin-playing Robot
Main use Assistance with short-distance personal transport Assistance with domestic duties and nursing and medical care
Features Can negotiate steps with independent vertical movement of left and right wheels, allowing it to assist in short-distance personal mobility

Has a traveling range of 20km on one hour of battery charge
Travels at up to 6km/h and capable of traversing a 10-degree gradient
Capable of following a person, allowing it to function as a porter
Capable of avoiding obstacles to reach its owner and of autonomously transporting its owner
Easy-to-become-familiar-with bipedal robot, capable of performing a variety of tasks with its hands and arms

Able to achieve dexterous, human-like hand movement and arm strength when playing the violin
Able to achieve vibrato on a violin similar to that created by humans
Future plans Practical use trial at a TMC-related facility from the latter half of 2008 Advancing further development of hand and arm flexibility in order to be able to use general purpose tools
Height 1,000mm (at rest); 1,100mm (in motion) 1,522mm
Weight 150kg 56kg
   

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