Toyota completed its first North American in-home testing of the Human Support Robot. The one-armed robot, HSR for short, is one of many mobility assistant robots Toyota is developing to help people with daily activities.
During testing, the HSR assisted paralyzed Army veteran Romulo Camargo with a couple tasks around the house. The robot successfully opened doors and fetched snacks for Camargo. Although these are basic tasks most would take for granted, Toyota’s vision is to help Camargo and others like him regain independence and improve the quality of life.
The HSR features a motorized torso, arm, and head, a design similar to Willow Garage’s PR2. Toyota placed QR code-like markers throughout Camargo’s home to let the robot move around and manipulate objects. HSR features a small gripper capable of grasping water bottles and activating handicapped door openers.
“At Toyota, we have a commitment to enriching lives by advancing mobility for all – whether it’s around town or across your living room,” states Doug Moore, senior manager for Toyota’s Technology for Human Support division in North America. “This includes developing technology solutions to assist people with limited mobility. We see our research with Romy and the HSR as a natural extension of our work as a mobility company that helps people navigate their world.”
Camargo recalls his initial reaction to the HSR, “When they opened the box, and I saw the robot, I figured we would unfold the next chapter in human support robots helping people with disabilities – like this research is going to change the world.”
Toyota’s research and development includes a number of high-tech gadgets for improved human mobility. For example, Welwalk WW-1000 is an actuated leg brace to help the partially paralyzed walk. Project BLAID heightens environmental awareness for the blind and Auto Access Seat helps those with limited mobility enter and exit car seats. Transfer Assist Robot can help move adult patients from bed to chair to toilet, no human required.