The Japanese brand Toyota, the world's No. 1 automaker, introduced the third-generation humanoid robot T-HR3 designed and developed by its Assistant Robot Division.
The T-HR3 reflects Toyota's broad concept of how advanced technologies can help meet individual mobility needs. This new Toyota robot represents a new evolutionary step over the previous generation of instrument-playing humanoid robots, created to test precise joint placement and pre-programmed movements.
Thus, The T-HR3 has capabilities that can safely assist humans in a variety of contexts, such as at home, in medical facilities, in construction sites, in disaster-struck locations, or even in outer space.
This humanoid robot is controlled by a Master Maneuvering System that allows to operate the entire body of the robot instinctively with wearable controls that transfer the movements of the hands, arms and feet to the robot, in addition to a helmet visor that allows the user view from the robot's perspective.
The system's master arms give the operator the full range of motion of the robot's corresponding joints, while with the master feet the user can walk without moving from the chair to move the robot forward or laterally. The T-HR3's Integrated Self-Interference Prevention Technology comes into play automatically to ensure that the robot and user do not interfere with each other's movements.
The T-HR3 and the Master Maneuvering System have various electric motors, reduction gears and torque sensors (torque servo modules) connected to each joint. They communicate operator movements directly to the 29 body parts of the T-HR3 and the controls of the Master Maneuvering System to provide the user with a seamless and synchronized experience.
The torque servo modules have been developed in collaboration with Tamagawa Seiki Co., Ltd. y NIDEC COPAL ELECTRONICS CORP. This technology represents a breakthrough in Toyota's research in safe robotics, by measuring the force exerted by and on the T-HR3 when it interacts with its environment and then transmitting that information to the operator of the robot itself.
The torque servo modules make possible the essential capabilities of the T-HR3: Flexible Joint Control, to control the contact force exerted by the robot on any subject or object in its closest environment; whole body coordination and balance control, to maintain the robot's balance if it collides with an object in its environment; and real remote maneuvers, to give users intuitive, seamless control of the robot.
These functions have profound implications for the future of robotics research and development, especially for robots operating in contexts where they must precisely and safely interact with their environment.
Since the 80s, Toyota has been developing industrial robots to improve its manufacturing processes. The robot assistants have harnessed the teachings of those experiences and harnessed Toyota's expertise in automotive technologies to develop new mobility systems that can assist physicians, caregivers and patients, the elderly and people with disabilities.