Toyota has unveiled a new humanoid robot that can mimic the actions of a human operator, allowing it to do everything from balancing on one foot to squeezing a balloon without popping it.
The new system relies on a remote control ‘Master Maneuvering System’, which uses an array of sensors to directly communicate physical movements to the robot.
According to the creators, this could be used to assist people at home, hospitals, or one day, even in space.
The system allows the operator to control the robot remotely from the Mastering Maneuvering System – a large chair equipped with movable arms and dozens of sensors.
Toyota’s third-generation humanoid, dubbed T-HR3, is equipped with 29 Torque Servo Mudles to create distinct movable body parts.
Each joint is connected to the chair through motors, reduction gears, and torque sensors.
And, the chair itself contains 16 master controls.
This, according to Toyota, allows for whole body coordination and ‘real remote manipulation’ of the robot’s actions.
Footage of the bot in action shows how its movements directly correspond to those of the operator.
When the operator moves their arms, the robot does the same.
It can even transition through several positions while standing on one foot.
The remote control system also uses a head mount display – in this case, an HTC Vive virtual reality headset.
With this, the operator can see exactly what the robot is seeing in 3D and real-time, to enable more precise actions.
According to the creators, this type of system could have a slew of possible applications.
It could be used in homes or medical settings to assist people with daily tasks.
Or, it could be used in construction sites, disaster-stricken areas, or even in space, to help explore or carry out work in environments that are potentially dangerous for a human.
Despite its clunky stature, the robot is even able to take on gentle tasks.
Guided by the human operator, the video shows how it can squeeze a balloon and roll it around between its hands without popping it.
‘The Partner Robot team members are committed to using the technology in T-HR3 to develop friendly and helpful robots that coexist with humans and assist them in their daily lives,’ said Akifumi Tamaoki, General Manager, Partner Robot Division.
‘Looking ahead, the core technologies developed for this platform will help inform and advance future development of robots to provide ever-better mobility for all.’
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