Since 2004, when Toyota revealed its trumpet playing robot, the company has been busier than ever in the robotics department.

The company has been utilising such technology in its vehicles, in the form of automated sensory features, but now Toyota is now taking the step to explore robotics as a foundation for a business in itself.

Last year, it invested $1bn (£670,000) in robotic research and development, with a focus on creating a robot that can help the elderly and infirm lead their everyday lives.

Introducing the Human Support Robot

The Human Support Robot is Toyota’s innovation, designed to perform simple tasks in order to make life easier for those who are frail or have a physical disability.

It can pick up objects from the floor and place them on a surface. It can also retrieve items and bring them to the owner, and perform other basic tasks. The robot moves along the floor on wheels and has a single arm for picking up the objects.

The partner robot is not yet available to customers. However, prototypes are being developed and tested with the help of 10 universities in Japan.

Later this year, the research will expand to involve partners overseas as well. New features that are currently being developed include a second arm and smarter technology to improve the robot’s capability to perform more complex tasks around the home.

Looking to the Future

This research is encouraged by the Japanese government, who are estimating that robotics will continue to see huge growth as an industry. Toyota certainly will play a big part in this. It foresees partner robots like the Human Support Robot becomes widespread across households, beginning with those who require the extra help due to illness or old age.

The Human Support Robot team are also exploring other practical uses for robots in order to widen their appeal and increase the potential client base. Such ideas include pet care, entertaining a cat or dog with a toy, and even partaking in social interaction with its owner.