Toyota's new robot avatar could go where humans can't

Toyota's new robot avatar could go where humans can't

Toyota has developed a new, third-generation humanoid robot called the T-HR3 that pairs with a virtual reality operating platform a human can use to have the robot mirror one's movements.

The 5-foot-tall, 165 lb robot is still intended as a test platform, but the idea is to build on this with robots that "home, medical facilities, construction sites, disaster-stricken areas and even outer space". The robot resembles a somewhat short person with long arms and smooth white panels covering its mechanical bits, with optical sensors but into the head. The master arms can convey a full range of motion to the humanoid, while the foot housing allows the user to walk in place in the chair to move the robot forward or laterally.

All the human has to do is strap themselves into Toyota's "Master Maneuvering System", which is made up of 16 torque servo modules attached to your body, as well as an HTC Vive virtual reality headset so you can see whatever the robot is now looking at.

The robot's human overlord, if you will, controls it via a Master Maneuvering System. The Torque Servo Module has been developed in collaboration with Tamagawa Seiki Co., Ltd. and NIDEC COPAL ELECTRONICS CORP. These functions have broad implications for future robotics research and development, especially for robots that operate in environments where they must safely and precisely interact with their surroundings.

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It's always been feared technological advancement could render human workers obsolete, but now Toyota has released a robot that works in tandem with real people, to get work done.

If you want to see the T-HR3 in real life, it'll be featured at the International Robot Exhibition 2017 in Tokyo from November 29 through December 2. Today, Toyota proudly employs 370,000 employees in communities around the world.

Toyota has unveiled an assistive robot test bed that builds on previous work undertaken by its Partner Robot wing, which examined specific robot limb joints and pre-programmed movements - including robots that played musical instruments.

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