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Welcome to In-Tech. Ever wonder how everything is going to be in the year 2050? Many of us may reach 65 years old or older by then. How will we cope with ever-evolving technologies and incorporate them into our day-to-day lives?
The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has opened its laboratory doors to showcase their latest advances in robotics aimed at assisting people in their homes and, in particular, the aging population. TRI’s robotics research is guided by the Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’, a powerful idea that every person’s life should have meaning and purpose. Studies of Ikigai, which translates to “reason for being,” teaches us that people feel most fulfilled when they do work they love and that helps society. TRI’s human-centered approach turns typical AI philosophy on its head: instead of replacing human beings, TRI’s research uses AI to amplify human ability. This approach is known as intelligence amplification (IA), where machines and humans work in synergy to do something better than either could do alone.
TRI’s focus is on home-based robots; robots that can assist when needed, but not interfere with crucial human fulfillment and interaction, focused primarily towards elderly individuals, for whom maintaining independence is a major concern.
One such innovative robotic concept is called the “Gantry robot”. It will descend from the ceiling to perform tasks such as loading the dishwasher, wiping surfaces, and clearing clutter. By traveling on the ceiling, the robot avoids the problems of navigating household floor clutter and navigating cramped spaces. When not in use, the robot will tuck itself up and out of the way. To further investigate this idea, the team has built a laboratory prototype robot that can do all the same tasks as a floor-based mobile robot but with the innovative overhead mobility system.
Toyota’s robotics division is focused on developing mechanical robotic helpers for the home, keeping older generations emotionally and physically healthy and agile as they age.