Toyota Motor Corp. may be best known for its vaunted production system and reputation for quality, but one day its robots could grace households around the globe. In December, the Japanese manufacturer introduced its latest additions to "partner robots" being developed to assist people in their everyday lives.
One, a mobility robot, is designed to assist with short-distance personal transport and is expected to undergo a "practical use" trial at a Toyota facility in the latter half of 2008. Among its features, the robot can travel up to six kilometers per hour and traverse a 10-degree gradient. Additionally, Toyota reports that the robot can avoid obstacles to reach its owner and autonomously transport its owner.
The primary purpose of the second robot, referred to by Toyota as a "violin-playing robot," is to assist with domestic duties and nursing and medical care. It is equipped with 17 joints in its hands and arms, and can achieve "dexterous, human-like" hand movement and arm strength when playing the violin. Toyota will continue to work on the robot's hand and arm flexibility to make it able to use general purpose tools.
In addition to its latest introductions, Toyota has demonstrated various entertainment robots and a tour-guide robot that operates at its headquarters. The company says it aims to attain practical use of its partner robots in the early 2010s.