Sep. 24, 2012 at 1:43 PM ET
An in-home robot for the masses that can fetch objects from the floor and high shelves and connect you with family and friends via a tablet computer, is being shown off this week at a trade show in Japan.
The lightweight, cylindrical Human Support Robot (HSR) responds to voice commands as well as a graphic interface on a tablet computer. Its key feature is a folding arm with a two-finger gripper that can pick up stuff from the ground, open curtains, reach high shelves, and other tasks, according to Toyota.
The arm is about 2.5-feet long and can lift objects weighing up to 2.7 pounds and 5.1 inches wide, which is sufficient to pick up a dropped remote control or fetch an ice cold beer from the fridge.
The 70 pound machine was designed to assist independent home living for people with limited arm or leg mobility. Top speed is only 1.8 miles per hour and the arm moves with insufficient force to cause much trouble, making it safe for indoor, at home use, according to Toyota.
The robot "can also wear a tablet computer atop its head, which would allow caregivers and family members to communicate with the robot's owner over Skype or other services," Gizmag noted in a story about the robot.
While a price isn’t set for the HSR, it could sell well among Japan’s aging population where insurance will pick up 70 percent of associated costs thanks to a recently passed law to encourage robot technology for elder care.