TPR-Robina (Toyota Partner Robot – RObot as INtelligent Assistant) was first unveiled alongside Toyota’s Violin-Playing Robot on August 22nd, 2007. Developed out of Toyota’s hospital helper and the less practical wheeled DJ Robot seen in 2005, Robina is meant to be a receptionist or tour guide and sports a completely redesigned look that is meant to be androgynous. On August 27th “she” began autonomously guiding visitors at the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall in Toyota City, where she continues to work to this day. Toyota is studying her performance to help further develop their Partner Robots.
With a battery life of 1 hour, Robina stands 1.2m (4′) tall, weighs 60kg (132 lbs), and has 27 degrees of freedom. She moves on wheels at a maximum speed of 3.6km/h, using ultrasonic sensors in her trunk and a laser range finder in her base to detect obstacles. With these sensors Robina is able to plan a path through her environment in real-time, so that even if something unexpectedly blocks her path she can continue towards her destination. The maps she generates cover an area as large as 200mx100m. This also means no new infrastructure was needed or installed specifically for the robot.
Toyota also developed a new three-fingered hand that allows the robot to hold a pen and skillfully sign her autograph. Speech recognition and synthesis give Robina the ability to hold a simple conversation, while the cameras in her head allow her to read name tags for a more personalized experience. During the initial press conference, Robina’s speech recognition didn’t work so well – it had trouble with children’s voices and the noisy crowd. When working properly, Robina is able to quiz visitors about Toyota’s cars as they tour the exhibits. In 2007 Robina was recognized with a Good Design Award in the New Frontier Design category.
- Toyota official news release (JP) (EN)
- Toyota Partner Robots official website (JP)
- Robina @ Impress Robot Watch (JP), (2), (3)
Impress Robot Watch | Response | Akihabara News