The companies said that by combining their respective technologies and know-how, Toyota and PFN would develop service robots capable of learning in typical living environments and executing a variety of tasks.
Toyota’s robotic development has for 15 years included a variety of different applications besides automotive manufacturing, including social, medical and rehabilitation. Its Human Support Robot, first developed in 2012, is intended to support independent living, including for the elderly and disabled. Toyota is working to improve robotic capabilities in tasks such as picking up and carrying objects, to potential uses in applications such as health management.
According to the company, HSRs continue to undergo trials at elderly-care facilities; it has also been used by research and development at 49 organizations in 13 countries.
Tokyo-based PFN, which specializes in software and hardware development for machine learning and connected devices, works in industrial applications across the manufacturing, automotive and healthcare industries. It has some experience in HSR technology, having developed a robot capable of cleaning a room, which it demonstrated at a recent trade show in Japan.
According to Toyota, it will initially loan several dozen HSRs to PFN. Over the next three years, the two companies will collaborate in research and development with the aim of accelerating the release of robots to market.
“Going forward toward our goal to develop service robots that better cater to the needs of our customers,” said Nobuhiko Koga, chief officer of Toyota’s Frontier Research Center. “We are excited by the prospect of collaborating in research and development with PFN, which boasts world-class intelligence technologies.”
Toru Nishikawa, president and CEO of PFN, said: “HSR is an outstanding robotic platform. By engaging in joint research and development with Toyota, who created the HSR, we hope to accelerate development of the functions necessary for robots to work in human living environments.
“Our goal is to realize the practical implementation of service robots for the first time in the world,” added Nishikawa.