Toyota Forms Two Partnerships to Further Robot Initiative

Toyota, which bases its North American operations in Plano, is expanding its tech footprint with a R&D collaboration as well as a project for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

From DFW to Tokyo, Toyota is making its presence known outside of the automotive industry by developing robotic mobility solutions.

Toyota’s R&D collaboration

Toyota is teaming up with Preferred Networks—a Japanese AI startup—to continued development on its Human Support Robots (HSR) for the public. The HSR is currently being constructed to provide people with basic care and support for nursing and long-term help.

“Several dozen” HSRs will be provided to Preferred Networks, which will be used for research and development during the next three years, according to TechCrunch.

This won’t be the first time Preferred Networks develops the HSR. Last year, the startup programmed an HSR to clean a room by itself through abilities to identify items, react to commands, and handle objects with care.

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Toyota’s HSR has also made an appearance at the new Toyota Experience Center in Plano, where it was mentioned that these robots could someday help keep children actively involved at school while they are homebound. Through the robot’s cameras, display screen, wheeled base, and arm, it can provide remote control and communication abilities to give a child a virtual presence at school.

Although robot helpers might seem like an idea for the future, Toyota has been developing “partner robots” since 2004 to help people who can’t move on their own.

Toyota partners on Tokyo 2020 Robot Project

Last month, Toyota announced that it’s going to take its robots to an international stage at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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“Now, as we transform into a mobility company, we are expanding our robotics efforts to provide all people with the freedom to move,” Nobuhiko Koga, chief officer at Toyota’s Frontier Research Center, said in a statement. “‘Mobility for all’ is not only the ‘physical’ movement of a person or thing from one location to another, but also includes ‘virtual’ mobility of a person.”

Toyota is teaming up with the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Tokyo Metropolitan government, and experts in robotics for the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project. Through this endeavor, Toyota plans to provide mobility solutions to people across several locations. 

The HSR is among Toyota’s five potential robot designs for Tokyo 2020 as well as a mascot robot, a humanoid robot, a remote location communication robot, and a field support robot. 

In 2017, Toyota began its first in-home trial of its HSR to assist a U.S. veteran. The trial marked only the beginning for Toyota’s partner robots. 

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