Tokyo — Toyota Motor Corp. has unveiled an upgraded version of its human-shaped T-HR3 robot. The robot, which is controlled remotely by a person wearing a headset and wiring on his or her arms and hands, now has faster and smoother finger movements because the controlling device is lighter and easier to use.
Such a robot could one day be used to perform surgery in a distant place where a doctor cannot travel. It also might allow people to feel like they're participating in events they can't actually attend.
"When we consider how robots will be used in the future, we think that there will be high demand for robots that make effective use of many joints to accomplish delicate tasks, the way humans do, and that can operate safely even when they are in contact with the world around them," Tomohisa Moridaira, who leads a Toyota research team developing the robot, said in a news release.
In a recent demonstration in Tokyo, a person wearing a headset and wiring made the robot move in exactly the same way he was moving, waving or making dance-like movements.
Smaller robots that look like the mascots for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were controlled in the same way.
Moridaira said human-shaped robots can be controlled intuitively because all the person operating it has to do is move naturally.
The challenge still lies in securing reliable and speedy telecommunications connections so that signals are accurately relayed from the human to the robot, said Moridaira.
The robots were connected by local networks in the demonstrations.
"We think there are important applications for future issues, like providing proper care for the aging population, including helping caregivers reduce travel time," Moridaira said.