At a time where Google is pulling back from its robotic efforts, Toyota is going full throttle with its robotic development.
During a talk with journalists in Tokyo last week, Gill Pratt, the CEO of the Toyota Research Institute, said the company is working on robots that can care for the elderly, Bloomberg reported.
And from the sound of it, the company wants its elderly care robots to have a wide array of skills.
John Hanson, national manager of Toyota’s communications, told Tech Insider that the company is working on developing robots that are incredibly “delicate” and “sophisticated,” capable of safely handling elderly people that are “very frail.”
Hanson also noted that machine learning will play an important role in training its robots how to treat elderly people.
The automaker’s robotics efforts dovetails with the Toyota Research Institute’s focus on driverless cars, Hanson said.
“In many ways, a robot and autonomous car are very similar,” he said. “Our goal is to reach that point where both of those forms that are driven by AI reach a really highly sophisticated level.”
The Toyota Research Institute hasn’t identified any other specific goals it has for its robots outside of elderly care, but Hanson said the institute is generally interested in robots geared specifically for the home.
“The car of the future is as much about software as it is about hardware, and as you put software and hardware together, what you get is a robot,” Pratt said during the talk with journalists, according to Bloomberg. “A robot is a kind of machine that senses and thinks and acts, and a mobile robot is one that does those things where the acting involves moving around.”
Considering Toyota is in final talks to acquire several robotics companies, the company’s push into home robotics doesn’t come as a huge surprise.
The Toyota Research Institute is closing in on a deal to buy Boston Dynamics, Google’s robotics division, sources familiar with the matter told Tech Insider in late May. Nikkei also reported that Toyota isn’t only in final talks to acquire Boston Dynamics, but Schaft robotics — another Google robotics division based in Tokyo.
Hanson declined to comment to Tech Insider Monday on the reports that Toyota is looking to acquire Boston Dynamics and Schaft.
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