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Toyota Debuts Humanoid Robot Controlled By HTC Vive

Wearable controls and a “Master Maneuvering System” lets you pilot the T-HR3 remotely.

It seems like you can’t swing a stick nowadays without hitting a VR-controlled robot. Jokes aside, we’ve seen a surprising amount of VR-based robotics over the past couple of months. Whether it be training robots to complete mundane tasks, defuse bombs, or direct production machines, there seems to be no end in what’s possible when you combine VR and robots.

Now it looks as though all this futuristic excitement has managed to catch the attention of the Toyota Motor Company as the company recently announced its own variation of VR robotics. Developed by Toyota’s Partner Robot Division, the T-HR3 is the company’s third generation humanoid robot and first model capable of mimicking the movements of a remote human operator in real-time.

Using what Toyota refers to as a “Master Maneuvering System, operators are able to control the entirety of the T-HR3 including its head, hands, arms and feet.

This is done via the MMS’s 16 different master control systems that directly correlate to the T-HR3’s 29 body parts for a smoother and natural movement. The systems arms allow for the precise control of the robots corresponding joints and its chair and master foot control give the users the ability to move the machine forward or laterally while remaining in place. Finally, an HTC Vive headset allows users to view the perspective of the machine as well as control its head movements.

The T-HR3’s Torque Servo Module gives the machine immense flexibility for dealing with the environment and other people. Flexible Joint Control manages and restrains the machines force of contact with other objects while Whole-body Coordination and Balance Control handles its balance. These features are due in large part to the intended purpose of the advanced humanoid.

Whereas Toyota’s previous humanoid robots were designed primarily to test the exact positioning of specific joints and pre-programmed movements, the T-HR3 is more of an experiment into providing assistance to humans in comfortable locations such as the home and commercial facilities, to more dangerous locations such as disasters or construction zones.

“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,” said Akifumi Tamaoki, General Manager, Toyota Partner Robot Division.

The T-HR3 will be up and running at the 2017 International Robot Exhibition at Tokyo Big Sight November 29th – December 2nd.

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