Weekend Fun: Toyota’s Violin Playing Humanoid Robot
Toyota, sick and tired of having Honda take all the robot spot-light, trotted out their own invention this past week to play the violin to a select press group. The 5-foot-tall all-white robot played a pretty-stiff rendition of “Pomp and Circumstance” using one hand with specially-developed, mechanical fingers to press the strings correctly, and the other to bow.
Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said robotics will be a core business for the company in coming years, and will begin testing its robots at hospitals, Toyota-related facilities and other places starting next year. Watanabe then went on to proclaim that the company hopes to deliver “partner robots” to consumers in 2010 — we didn’t ask him to elaborate…
Watanabe presented a vision of the future in which wheelchair-like “mobility robots” would offer “bed-to-bed” services to people, including the elderly and the sick, just like cars take people “door-to-door.” In a demonstration, a man got on the mobility robot, a motorized two-wheeled chair, then scooted around. Toyota showed how the moving machine could go up and down slopes and go over bumps without upsetting the person sitting on the chair because the wheels could adjust to such changes.
Trying to one-up its rival Honda, Toyota has been aggressively beefing up its robotics team. In August, it announced that it was teaming up with Sony Corp., which discontinued its Aibo dog-like robot last year, to develop an innovative, intelligent, single-seat vehicle.
The Japanese government has been recently pushing companies and researchers to make robotics a pillar of this nation’s business.