One of the most talked about topics in science fiction is the distrust of robots and its role with human beings, since there is some fear that machines will replace people and that even Artificial intelligence makes them capable of taking autonomy to act against people instead of helping them.
But nevertheless, companion and assistance robots are raised so that their future is disassociated from those scenarios about substitution and power, thus becoming allies that increase human capacity.
The approaches on a symbiotic society were shared during the conference Towards the realization of a coexistence between humans and robots, in which the engineer Takemitsu Mori showed the progress of the Japanese company Toyota in the development of its Human Support Robots (Human Support Robots for its acronym in English, HSR).
Takemitsu Mori is the Project Manager of the R-Frontier Robotics Research Unit at the Frontier Research Center division of Toyota Motor Corporation. In one of the videos that he showed to the students of the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) it was possible to appreciate what is the idea of this company to achieve the symbiotic society, where robots would increase the physical capacity of humans and would not be intended solely to help them.
In the animation it was possible to see a elderly person with certain motor limitations that no longer allowed him to do his daily activities, however, thanks to a exoskeleton and even virtual reality viewer with only one eye, he could perform the movements or tasks in a simple way.
It should be noted that these assistive devices did not have their own autonomy, but they were controlled by the old woman’s daughter, in this way, Toyota’s idea is that the robots are not the focus of attention in their investigations and the person who benefits from the assistance can perceive a better psychological effect, as is a loved one who is helping at all times and not a machine with an algorithm.
Thus, the functionality of the assistance robots would be explained as a triangulation, on one side is the remote operator, on the other the person who will receive assistance and finally machine that makes movement possible.
At the conference, it was made clear that the people in charge of operating Toyota robots do not need to have special training or knowledge about programming and robotics, they should only be able to place the controls on their own body or sit in front of a computer to talk and have their image projected on the machine’s screen.
The robots can also be operated by people who live with a disability and even by people who are not present in the country, thus, it is planned that in the future these devices can be controlled at very wide distances even for some use.
These machines, in addition to offering remote connection, have sensors and cameras capable of identifying objects by proximity to reduce the errors of whoever is driving the robot, they can even be trained for various constant tasks such as taking a picture.
It should be noted that Toyota’s implementation is focused on software, that is, artificial intelligence programming and operation that makes the operation of robots possible.
On the other hand, hardware is purchased from third-party vendors, that is, what is palpable to people such as the body of the robot itself, the cameras, sensors, screens and controllers for the person who operates it. However, if a part is not available in the world, it is manufactured at Toyota.
Assisting people with reduced mobility is not the only way the new form of technology for assistive robots would be applied, as it was the Toyota team that developed the innovations for assist people in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Unfortunately they could not be used as planned because most of the competitions took place without an audience, one of the robots would accompany people in wheelchairs to assist them with information, lead them to their place, was equipped with a garbage can and even had a speaker and camera so that they were supported by volunteer staff of the Olympic Games.
The other robot was in charge of taking souvenir photographs for the attendees, this one was used in Tokyo 2020 but not for tourists, but for international representatives and the athletes’ training team.
In a video shown at the Towards Realizing Human-Robot Coexistence conference, it was shown that the reception of this type of care was very good, even having a positive impact on an operator who uses a wheelchair, since people focused on the face of the person who was serving them on the robot’s screen and not on their mobility.
Regarding the future commercialization and mass distribution of these companion robot assistants, the experts Yoshiaki Asahara Toyota Research Institute as well as Kazuhito Tanaka Y Akihito Gotō Toyota Motor Corporation clarified that the investigation is still ongoing.
They still do not have an estimated date for the arrival of these robots to the Japanese market and neither a fixed price before the public, because they are aware that it is a personal assistant with wide operating possibilities and would have a high value, but the people who need this support You are not necessarily financially comfortable.
In Latin America, the floors of the houses are not always regular and the spaces are reduced, for which the Toyota Research Institute is working to implement robots that hang from the ceiling for assistanceaor, they are equipped with heavy-duty tires that facilitate the mobility of said devices.
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