Toyota unveils R2-D2-like robot which can help look after the sick & elderly

The Human Support Robot (HSR) © newsroom.toyota.co.jp
Toyota has unveiled a new support droid that is moving like the iconic R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies. The clever robot designed to help the elderly and disabled, can pick up to 1.2 kg of objects from the floor or shelves.

“The Human Support Robot (HSR) is Toyota's answer to the ever-increasing demand for long-term elderly care in societies like Japan,” says the company in a press release, adding that its goal is to assist “independent home living for the elderly and disabled.”

According to Toyota, the 135-cm robot which has “highly maneuverable, compact, and lightweight cylindrical body and folding arm,” can pick objects “up off the floor, retrieve objects from shelves, and perform a variety of other tasks.”

© newsroom.toyota.co.jp

The 37-kg droid is able to hold objects weighing up to 1.2 kg (2.6 lb) and is able to traverse surfaces with height difference of up to 5 mm and inclines of up to 5°.

The promo video of the helping robot shows that it can even grab large objects from the floor, grasp small objects, like a pen or even lift a sheet of paper with a vacuum pad.

"Although it can only do one simple task of picking up, it's already making disabled people quite happy. We're just getting started, but eventually we want it to enter people's homes," Kouichi Ikeda, the engineer of the robot, said at an exhibition of health care technology in the city of Yokohama, south of Tokyo, July 24.

The Human Support Robot (HSR) © newsroom.toyota.co.jp

The user can get access to the robot from another device and even use it as camera-phone to observe the patient or the elderly person. “In addition to local, on-site operation, the HSR can be operated remotely by family and friends, with the operator's face and voice being relayed in real-time, allowing for real, human interaction while also being able to help with daily tasks.”

According to Tadashi Hatakenaka, manager and engineer at the Yokohama Rehabilitation Center, people “feel more comfortable asking a robot to pick up after them than asking a human helper.”

Human Support Robot is not the only droid project of Toyota. It also developed Walk Assist Robot in 2011 which can help a person who lost one leg due to paralysis, and Care Assist Robot released in 2011 which is able to transport the patients.

Toyota’s 2007 Robina partner robot can perform housework and even converse with people, while the 2005 Humanoid can even play the violin.