Toyota is working on robots that assist the aged

08 October 2019 - 08:48 By AFP Relaxnews
Toyota Research Institute is teaching robots to help the elderly perform home tasks.
Toyota Research Institute is teaching robots to help the elderly perform home tasks.
Image: Supplied

As many countries worldwide experience surges in the proportion of elderly people in their populations, ensuring that all people are properly attended to becomes increasingly difficult. To address this challenge, Toyota's Research Institute announced last week that an at-home assistant robot is in development, one that has the capacity to continuously learn how to do new tasks in all types of homes.

Via a technology called fleet learning, these robots use cloud robotics and deep learning to share know-how with all bots in the network, allowing the others to perform the same task in their respective environments. According to Toyota, this technology (the same science enabling Tesla's network of autonomously driving vehicles to get better at travelling without human intervention) allows the fleet to “achieve an exponential increase in robotic capabilities”

New tasks can be taught to the robots by humans, in addition to being programmed within the software. Such fine-tuning gives the robots highly specific abilities otherwise not developed by the institute. Even so, the robots will be delivered with an extensive repertoire of skills and the ability to adapt to different and evolving homes.

The team “teach[es] the robot to perform arbitrary tasks with a variety of objects, rather than program the robot to perform specific predefined tasks with specific objects”, so that the robots can approach similar, albeit not exactly the same, situations accordingly.

While these robots are being developed to help older individuals gain a higher quality of life, Toyota sees this technology expanding towards manufacturing facilities. Now, only prototypes of these robots exist.

The company did not say when they could hit the market.

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