Sunday, October 4, 2020

Auto-mation: "Toyota’s robotic butler will serve you from the ceiling"

From Popular Science:

Users can train it to perform complicated tasks by first demonstrating them in VR.
Toyota's home robot will do your housework, but you'll have to teach it how first.Toyota Research Institute
Five years ago, Toyota announced a $1 billion commitment to its Research Institute (TRI) and hired hundreds of engineers to work on forward-thinking robotics and AI-driven products, such as self-driving cars. This week, TRI gave journalists a chance to attend a virtual open-house (part of which you can watch in the video embedded below) to see what the labs have been building.
The bulk of the prototypes shown during the event are meant to help people out around their homes. The idea of a helper robot has been around for decades, but it has already begun to gain more real-world traction, especially in countries such as Japan where an aging population could cause shortages in support staff.

TRI’s primary home robot design is built to hang from a special set of tracks built into a home’s ceiling. We typically imagine robot butlers rolling or actually walking around our spaces (due at least in some part to the awful robot butler in Rocky IV), but TRI says mounting a bot on the ceiling brings considerable advantages.

First, the robot has a simpler time learning the layout of the home—it doesn’t need to learn complex paths around obstacles to get from one place to another because there’s a kitchen island or a new recliner to get in its way....