Toyota has developed robots for care support, in response to society's aging demographics. These robots have been co-developed with Fujita Health University. They utilize advanced technologies from Toyota, including motor control technology developed for automobiles, as well as walking control and sensor technology used in bipedal robots.
"The first feature I'd like to show you is the independent walking assistance. Even people with one leg paralyzed, due to a stroke or the like, retain the use of their groin muscles. So they can swing the leg forward. The amount of swinging motion depends on the wearer's intention. If the person wants to walk quickly, there's a lot of swinging, and if they want to walk slowly, there's less. And this is detected by a sensor on the thigh. There's also a load sensor on the sole of the foot, to detect when it touches the ground. The wearer's intention can be detected using just these two sensors."
The brace and backpack each weigh 3.5kg, with the backpack containing a battery and controller. When a commercial version is released, the weight of the backpack will be halved, so this part will fit into a waist pouch.
The automatic walking assist robot has also been used in tests to help with walking practice. By changing the support force as the patient recovers, this system can help people to practice walking naturally from the start.
In addition, Toyota is developing a balance training assist robot using its Winglet technology for personal mobility, and a robot that helps move people out of a bed and into a wheelchair.
"Moving someone onto the toilet used to require two people, but it can now be done by one person. We think this could reduce the burden on caregivers' backs, and also help patients feel more at ease."
Toyota aims to release all these robots from 2013 onward.