Toyota's Humanoid Robot Goes Wireless Thanks to 5G Technology
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The burgeoning tech sector continues to attract interest from some of the big companies that are looking to broaden their horizons. Japanese automotive giant Toyota Motor Corp. is also not shying away from investing in new emerging technologies. After artificial intelligence and big data, the company is all set to try hands in a humanoid robot. Last year, Toyota introduced a third generation humanoid robot T-HR3 to the world. The robotics platform is designed and developed by Toyota's Partner Robot Division, to explore new technologies for safely managing physical interactions between robots and their surroundings, as well as a new remote directional system that mirrors user movements to the robot.
As of now, the robot is controlled from a Master Maneuvering System (direct wired connection) that allows the entire body to be operated instinctively with wearable controls that maps hand, arm and foot movements, and a head-mounted display that allows the user to see from the bot’s perspective. However, the company has now announced the integration of 5G technology to control the robot wirelessly.
Human-Controlled Robotic System
In partnership with Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo, Toyota announced that they have successfully controlled the T-HR3 robot in trials using 5G under a test environment with control from a remote location (a distance of approximately 10 kilometres) in an area between two points. The company developed the T-HR3 with the aim of creating a partner robot that can safely support human activities in a variety of circumstances, such as homes and healthcare institutions. By employing Torque Servo Modules that control torque (power) and a Master Maneuvering System that allows the robot's entire body to be operated at will, the operator can feel external forces exerted on the T-HR3 and prompt it to move in the same manner as them.
Since the 1980s, Toyota has been developing industrial robots to enhance its manufacturing processes. Partner Robot has utilized the insights from that experience and built on Toyota's expertise in automotive technologies to develop new mobility solutions that support doctors, caregivers and patients, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
From Wired to Wireless
Until now, T-HR3 experiments have been conducted on a wired connection, with relatively few communication delays. This time, with an eye toward improved use in practical environments, the robot is successfully controlled wirelessly, using low-latency 5G technology developed by Docomo. Both the companies plan to demonstrate the technology between Tokyo Big Sight and Tokyo Skytree as part of the Docomo Open House 2018, which will be held at Tokyo Big Sight over two days starting on December 6, 2018. Docomo and Toyota aim to continue conducting trials based on diverse scenarios of robot use and intend to research and develop technologies and services with the aim of realizing 5G services in 2020 and, subsequently, a prosperous society of mobility.