The robot was able to fetch water and open doors for a quadriplegic.
On Friday, the Japanese carmaker Toyota shared footage of its robot designed to help people with limited mobility. It’s the first time this robot has been put to work in an American home.
The robot, which Toyota calls a Human Support Robot, or HSR, stands a little over four feet tall. It has one arm with a gripper; instead of legs, it roves around flat surfaces on a wheeled base. The robot can be beckoned with a touchscreen controller.
Toyota has already been putting its robots to work in Japanese hospitals for the past few years. But for U.S. trial, the robot visited the home of Romulo “Romy” Camargo, a decorated war veteran who suffered injuries in Afghanistan that left him paralyzed from the neck down. His disability makes routine movements like fetching a glass of water or opening a door incredibly difficult — all tasks the HSR can help with.
In the video, Toyota researchers place stickers on objects around the room that help the HSR locate or identify them, like a water bottle or a push button to open an automatic door.
HSR isn’t Toyota’s only robot aimed at helping people with limited mobility. In April of this year, the carmaker launched a rental service for its robotic leg brace in Japan, called Welwalk, designed to help partially paralyzed people walk and rehabilitate. That system will cost 1 million yen (about $9,000), on top of a 350,000 yen (about $3,000) monthly fee — not cheap.
Japan has one of the largest aging populations in the world, with over a quarter of its 127 million people over the age of 65, according to 2015 data from the World Bank. That’s compared to about 15 percent in the United States. This large, potentially vulnerable group is part of the motivation behind why companies like Toyota and Honda are working on robots that will help people with limited mobility gain a greater level of independence.
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Author: April Glaser
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