These Are the Droids You're Looking For

Toyota Research Institute demonstrates a human-assist robot that learns by doing, and then shares that knowledge with its fellow robots

October 23, 2019

It may not be C3PO, but it’s still pretty dang cool.

The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has created a research prototype robot that aims to advance algorithm development and the underlying technology required to enhance robot capabilities. While TRI won’t actually build the end product, its work could point the way to robots that might emulate Star Wars’ human-like android. Some day.

The good news? You don’t have to wait to see TRI’s groundbreaking work in action. Just watch the video above.

TRI’s robot is very different from the ones that have become commonplace along manufacturing assembly lines. Those machines are designed to perform very specific tasks over and over again. This one can be taught by a human to perform a task and use that learning to adjust to the complexities of a home environment that’s filled with large objects and configured in many different ways. In the future, it is expected to be able to share this knowledge with other robots in other locations, a concept referred to as “fleet learning.”

An actual product based on this technology is a long way off. But TRI thinks its work could ultimately help the elderly remain in their homes longer, thus improving the quality of their lives. What is certain is that the number of people who fit that description will grow as the population in developed countries continues to age.

The future could be here sooner than we think.

By Dan Miller

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