Toyota's T-HR3 Can Mimic Your Movements Like a Robotic Avatar

Tuesday, 21 November 2017 - 6:36PM
Technology
Robotics
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 - 6:36PM
Toyota's T-HR3 Can Mimic Your Movements Like a Robotic Avatar
Toyota
In the worlds of both science fiction and real robotics development, one of many major goals is to create a machine which can precisely carry out our instructions and movements, to the point that they're essentially an extension of ourselves.

Doctor Octopus may have settled for some extra robotic arms (and some engineers are indeed working on mechanical arms), but a full robot capable of becoming our hands, feet and eyes - while we control it from the safety of somewhere else - might soon be ready. Toyota just unveiled its third generation humanoid robot, called the T-HR3, which can directly synchronize its movements with any human controlling it.

All the human has to do is strap themselves into Toyota's "Master Maneuvering System," which is made up of 16 torque servo modules attached to your body, as well as an HTC Vive virtual reality headset so you can see whatever the robot is currently looking at. This all connects back to the 29 torque servos in the T-HRC, which allow for very precise, humanoid movements.

In terms of giving yourself an avatar to control, it's much easier than locking yourself inside a tank like in Avatar, being slightly closer to the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates instead. Here, you have modules on your body that could be seen as a sort of motion control suit (in premise only, the technology is very different), and a VR headset over your face.



While any Terminator fans might be suspicious of a robot whose name has a "T" in the front, the T-HR3 is being cast in a much friendlier light, being presented by Toyota as an alternative to sending humans into dangerous situations, like construction sites, disaster-stricken areas, or even space.

In a press release, Akifumi Tamaoki, the general manager of Toyota's Partner Robot Division, talked about turning T-HR3 into a helpful robot which could coexist with humans:

Opening quote
"The Partner Robot team members are committed to using the technology in T-HR3 to develop friendly and helpful robots that coexist with humans and assist them in their daily lives. Looking ahead, the core technologies developed for this platform will help inform and advance future development of robots to provide ever-better mobility for all."
Closing quote


Hopefully that turns out to be the case. While robots almost never end up coexisting with society in science fiction unless they can stick to Isaac Asimov's three rules of robotics, there's a better chance in real life of T-HR3 actually being the helpful robotic avatar it's set out to be.
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