27 August 2007

Toyota--A Robot Company?

Certainly Toyota has developed and refined the use of robots in heavy industry as much as any company. Why shouldn't Toyota use its acquired expertise to leverage itself into an entirely new and potentially lucrative business?
Toyota is continuing to apply its manufacturing capabilities and cutting-edge technology in the field of robotics with the release of a new Tour Guide Robot that will escort visitors around the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall in Toyota City, Japan, from later this month. The robot’s stand-out attributes include completely autonomous motion, jointed fingers (giving it the ability to sign autographs), image recognition (it can recognize name tags and address visitors directly), plus complex verbal communication skills that enable it to provide explanations of exhibits.

Nor will this robo-tour guide be the end of Toyota's foray into the larger robotics business. Toyota is combining its expertise in transportation with robotics to provide a robot that moves people around.
The "i-unit" is a "personal mobility" concept vehicle based on the revolutionary PM-01 announced by Toyota in 2003 - a cross between a partially enclosed motorcycle, an open wheel racer and a speedy vehicular exoskeleton for single person transport. Specially created for the launch of EXPO 2005 to reflect the environmental theme, the open "i-unit" design is inspired by the leaf that "converts sunlight into life energy, seeks to express the power of the unknown, the logic of living things and the simple beauty of waste-free functionality."

...The driver support system features Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technology, which Toyota hopes to utilise for an accident-free society. The system permits efficient and safe autopilot driving in specially equipped lanes.

The "i-unit" also has a personalised recognition system can provide information and music, and body color can be customised according to the individual's preferences and emotions.

Toyota may be a bit behind schedule with the i-unit, but the idea is good. Giving machine intelligence to personal vehicles, along with anti-collision autopilot capability, may be just what today's more demanding consumers want.

Of course, if one reflects for a few moments on what the military is doing with robotics technology, one's futuristic musings may take a somewhat darker turn. We may eventually be forced to admit that while spinoffs from space technology once drove consumer technology, now it seems to be military technology that is in the driver's seat.

Labels: ,

Bookmark and Share


Blogger IConrad said...

It's all about who has the capital "to spare." Today, that's the US Military. And, as a result of this military-industrial complex, DARPA is now the primary funder of all cutting-edge technology almost globally; with the proof-of-concepts going on there trickling throughout the rest of the world.

There's a reason that all major cybernetics breakthroughs are coming from DARPA-funded agencies rather than in Japan, despite the Japanese fondness for cyberpunkiness. (If that's not a word, I just coined it. Praise teh intarnits!)

That's my take, anyhow. I'm still tickled pink that DARPA is willing to go steampunk as well. rofl.

Monday, 27 August, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

Surfeit ambition, corruption, wanton slaughter and destruction, ubiquitous warlordism, degradation of human rights....

That is the nature of the human world.

Whether all of that would be better or worse without the US military is open to vigorous debate.

Would the world be better with China or Russia as hegemon? Would the world be better without a hegemon at all?

Sometimes as good as it gets is pretty bad indeed.

We do need enough stability and excess wealth to finance the research and development of products and processes that will help us make a lot better decisions.

Tuesday, 28 August, 2007  

Post a Comment

“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts