While Honda’s ASIMO has taken much of the attention for automaker-built robots, Toyota has been working on humanoid helpers of its own for years, and now it’s unveiling a third-generation model. ( Toyota Robot ) The THR-3 expands on previous models built to test specific joints and movements by putting together a full body to be controlled by a human operating its Master Maneuvering System. The force feedback-enabled control system includes a head-mounted display (HTC Vive), “data glove” and torque servos that allows the operator to “instantly manipulate” the robot by mapping their motions and force precisely. ( Toyota Robot )
The 5-foot-tall, 165 lb robot is still intended as a test platform, but the idea is to build on this with robots that “home, medical facilities, construction sites, disaster-stricken areas and even outer space.” ( Toyota Robot ) The video shows off T-HR3 practicing its balance, and sensitively picking up a ball without popping it, although there’s nothing in the demo that matches the backflipping Boston Dynamics robot — yet. That may explain why Toyota also pursued acquiring the robot builder before Softbank snapped it up and still has plans to invest over a billion dollars in robots and AI research. ( Toyota Robot )
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