December 7, 2007 Toyota has unveiled two additions to its growing family of partner robots - a new mobility robot and a humanoid robot that's dexterous enough to play the violin. According to the company's release, the violin playing robot can perform a variety of delicate tasks with its arms and hands - each of which contain 17 joints - including being able to mimic the human ability to achieve vibrato on a violin. The new Mobility Robot - which shares its design platform with the I-Real personal transport concept recently tested by Gizmag at the Tokyo Motor Show - is capable of transporting its owner or following in their footsteps as a porter, autonomously avoiding obstacles at speeds of up to 4mph.
Capable of traveling up to a distance of 13 miles on one hour of battery charge, the Mobility Robot is able to negotiate steps and other obstacles that would defeat conventional wheeled vehicles - although details are scarce at this stage on exactly how this is achieved.
The humanoid Violin-playing Robot stands at 1.5-meters tall and despite its musical ability, the machine primarily seen as a "helper-robot" of the future with its agility, precision of movement and the ability to manipulate tools with similar dexterity to a human making it suitable for roles in manufacturing, nursing, medical care and domestic environments. Advances in artificial intelligence will also broaden the potential for robots to take up roles such as tour guides where language skills and interactive capabilities will be as important as physical characteristics.
The new robotic concepts wont be carrying your shopping or serenading you this Christmas however - Toyota hopes to have these and other partner robots - including personal transport oriented machines like the I-Unit and I-Real, which is fast approaching commercialization - on sale early next decade.