Toyota built a robot to help a paralyzed Army vet around the house

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Toy­ota recent­ly com­plet­ed its first in-home tri­al of its new Human Sup­port Robot. The Japan­ese auto giant built the HSR to help peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties per­form every­day tasks around the home, like open doors and fetch water bot­tles. In this case, the robot was deliv­ered to the home of a US Army vet who is para­plegic, and, as you can imag­ine, the results were quite heart­warm­ing.

The HSR, with its artic­u­lat­ed tor­so and arm and video call­ing func­tion­al­i­ty, has main­ly been in use in hos­pi­tals in Japan, help­ing with that countrys rapid­ly aging pop­u­la­tion. Demon­stra­tions showed peo­ple oper­at­ing the HSR remote­ly via a touch­screen tablet to open cur­tains and deliv­er food and water to bed-rid­den fam­i­ly mem­bers. But this is the first time the robot has been used in someones pri­vate home.

a nat­ur­al exten­sion of our work as a mobil­i­ty com­pa­ny that helps peo­ple nav­i­gate their world

Romu­lo Romy Camar­go is a dec­o­rat­ed war vet­er­an who was wound­ed in Afghanistan, leav­ing him par­a­lyzed below the neck. Toy­ota said the goal was to help Camar­go regain some inde­pen­dence and improve the qual­i­ty of his life.

At Toy­ota, we have a com­mit­ment to enrich­ing lives by advanc­ing mobil­i­ty for all whether its around town or across your liv­ing room, said Doug Moore, senior man­ag­er, Tech­nol­o­gy for Human Sup­port at Toy­ota, in a state­ment. This includes devel­op­ing tech­nol­o­gy solu­tions to assist peo­ple with lim­it­ed mobil­i­ty. We see our research with Romy and the HSR as a nat­ur­al exten­sion of our work as a mobil­i­ty com­pa­ny that helps peo­ple nav­i­gate their world.

A video pro­duced by Toy­ota shows researchers build­ing and test­ing the HSRs capa­bil­i­ties, using QR code-like sym­bols to help the robots sen­sors iden­ti­fy every­day objects. After­ward, the robot is deliv­ered to Camargos home, where he shown using pen­cil in his mouth to tap com­mands on a touch­screen to direct the robot to open doors and fetch a water bot­tle. At one point, the robot fist-bumps Camargos son and thats the part where I teared up a lit­tle.

This is, you know, a big game-chang­er for every­body that has a dis­abil­i­ty, Camar­go says in the video. If I can help in any­way, the bet­ter my life will be just because [of the] sat­is­fac­tion.

The HSRs ori­gins date back to 2007, when Toy­ota launched its Robot Part­ner pro­gram aimed at devel­op­ing robots that could inte­grate into every­day life. Since then, weve seen them used for per­son­al trans­port, play­ing vio­lin, and even heard plans to send them to the Moon. In 2011, Toy­ota unveiled a series of robot­ic braces and exoskele­tons designed to improve reha­bil­i­ta­tion of injured or sick patients, help­ing with walk­ing, bal­ance, and pos­ture; along with aid­ing in trans­fer­ring patients between beds.

Then in 2015, the worlds biggest automak­er announced the cre­ation of the Toy­ota Research Insti­tute, to devel­op AI tech­nolo­gies in two main areas: autonomous cars and robot helpers for around the home. The com­pa­ny said it planned to pump $1 bil­lion into the insti­tute over the next five years.


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