Toyota’s Partner Robot program began in 2001, and in 2003 it was announced along with plans to develop robots as personal assistants for humans. Toyota wants their robots to have human characteristics such as being agile, warm and kind, while also being intelligent enough to operate a variety of devices relating to health care, home care, and manufacturing. Along these lines they’ve developed three types of robots: walking, rolling, and mountable vehicles.
The first Partner Robot was a “Walking Type” bipedal humanoid that played the trumpet. Standing 130cm (4’2″) tall and weighing only 35kg (77 lbs), this robot does not feature a heavy backpack as seen in the Honda ASIMO.
It can also skillfully play the trumpet, which requires the robot to blow air (produced with a bellow) through rubbery lips while playing notes with its fingers. This prototype was replaced with a newer model for the Aichi Expo in 2005.
The musical Partner Robots can be considered the modern-day versions of the Karakuri Ningyo automatons that were used by wealthy merchants to impress clients in pre-industrial Japan. However, the plan for the robots to one day improve society makes them more than just expensive PR tools. Video and media after the break.
- Toyota Partner Robots (official site EN/JP)
- Toyota (official press release EN)
- Toyota Partner Robot overview (EN)
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