Toyota's been working on a few great projects aimed at helping people with limited mobility, and they've made a big announcement today. They have completed their first North American in-home trial of HSR, the Human Support Robot.
The company worked with Romulo Camargo, a veteran who sustained serious injuries in Afghanistan. He's now paralyzed from the waist down. HSR's mission was to make Camargo's life easier and improve his quality of life; it helped him open doors and brought him water and snacks.
The HSR is lightweight and is equipped with a telescoping, articulated arm with a soft, flexible hand. It can receive inputs and commands through a GUI on your smartphone or tablet, as well as interpret voice commands. Its three basic modes can pick up (using a gripper for larger objects or an onboard vacuum for smaller, more difficult ones), fetch (utilizing its object recognition features), and hand over manual control (which allows the user to take control of the robot). Caregivers can also use the HSR for monitoring while on the same network. Toyota plans to expand this to offsite locations in the future.
When Camargo first opened the box containing his HSR, he said, "When they opened the box, and I saw the robot, I figured we would unfold the next chapter in human support robots helping people with disabilities – like this research is going to change the world." It's encouraging how far robotic technology has come in just a few years; putting HSRs in the homes of people with mobility issues will do a lot to improving their quality of life.