T-HR3 Humanoid Robot
T-HR3. © Toyota Motor Corporation.
Last June, it was rumoured that Toyota was on the verge of acquiring robot-maker Boston Dynamics, which at the time was a subsidiary of Alphabet-Google. SoftBank ended up sealing that deal, but that hasn’t dampened Toyota’s robotic ambitions, as shown by its continued heavy investment in robotics and artificial intelligence. Its robotics division just unveiled its T-HR3, a brand-new, third-generation humanoid robot. It measures 1.5 metres high, weighs 75 kg, and looks at first glance like a high-performer, with fluid movement, excellent balance and good coordination. A human is at the reins, however, and controls the robot by a sophisticated immersion system known as a “Master Maneuvering System,” allowing the robot to serve as a physical substitute for people with mobility issues.
Spectrum magazine’s Evan Ackerman muses that Toyota might be aiming to use the MMS as a learning tool. In this scenario, the robot would gain its experience and knowledge by observing how humans perform a variety of tasks through it, eventually learning how to do the tasks itself, akin to the approach that Peter Abbell is testing out with Embodied Intelligence.
Rather than an actual commercial product that will be available in the future, it seems that the T-HR3 is more of a study in feasibility and know-how. Toyota’s press release addresses this with a very general statement about how the T-HR3 is designed to be “a platform with capabilities that can safely assist humans in a variety of settings, such as the home, medical facilities, construction sites, disaster-stricken areas and even outer space.”
⇨ IEEE Spectrum, “Toyota gets back into humanoid robots with new T-HR3.”