Toyota's tour-guide robot seeks peace... and total surrender of mankind

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Not content with its ever-tightening grip on the global auto industry, Toyota has expanded its goals and embarked on a quest to create a new droid army with which it hopes to take control of the galaxy. Without Jedi to protect us, we're doomed.

Okay. It's really not that dire, but we weren't kidding about the Toyobots. The company has unveiled a new wheeled tour guide robot that will lead visitors around the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall in Toyota City, Japan. The 'bot moves autonomously, communicates verbally, recognizes visitor nametags, and is able to avoid obstacles without outside assistance. Furthermore, it's equipped with three jointed fingers on each hand, which Toyota says enable it to sign autographs. (A word of caution: these had only three fingers, too.)

It's the latest showcase for Toyota's ongoing development of Partner Robots designed to assist people with the various tasks they encounter in their daily lives. Perhaps, in the future, one of the Toyota robots will be able to talk directly to the Hyper Hybrid Synergy Drive to diagnose and repair problems.

Until then, however, we're really more interested in seeing one of these match up with Honda's ASIMO in a fight.

[Source: Toyota]

New Robot to Give Tours at Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall in Japan

Toyota announced today that it has developed a tour guide robot that will escort visitors around the various displays of Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall in Toyota City, Japan from later this month.

The newly developed tour guide robot is equipped with autonomous movement capabilities for avoiding obstacles and with jointed fingers, allowing it to sign autographs. The robot is also able to interact with visitors through a combination of verbal communication and gestures.

Toyota is applying its mobility and manufacturing technologies, as well as its approach to making things, to developing Toyota Partner Robots that will support people in their daily lives and to help create a healthy and comfortable society in the future. Toyota Partner Robots performed at the Toyota Group Pavilion during the 2005 World Exposition in Aichi. Since then, Toyota has been committed to the continuous development of these robots, focusing on the four areas in which they can be of the most use to humans: assistance with domestic duties, assistance with nursing and medical care, assistance with manufacturing and assistance with short-distance personal transport.

Toyota plans to incorporate what it learns from using the tour guide robot at the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall to further improve and develop its robots.

The Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall features exhibits and audio-visual presentations that illustrate Toyota's vision of enriching society through car manufacturing, as well as its most advanced car manufacturing technologies. The venue also holds various seasonal events and exhibitions.

Toyota Tour Guide Robot

Wheeled model

Main areas of application
Guiding visitors and providing explanations of exhibits

* Autonomous motion, allowing the robot to move toward a destination while avoiding obstacles
* Jointed fingers, allowing the robot to sign autographs
* Verbal communication, allowing the robot to interact with visitors
* Image recognition, allowing the robot to recognise visitors' nametags and direct its explanations to them directly



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