Using Toyota’s Human Support Robot as a base, the two companies will accelerate development by sharing their respective technologies

The day isn’t far now when you’ll be assisted by your own robot to carry out day to day tasks. Japan’s Toyota Motor Corporation and Preferred Networks (PFN) Inc have announced their agreement to conduct joint research and development on Toyota’s Human Support Robot (HSR) robotics platform. In a statement released by Toyota, it has stated that the two companies aim to develop service robots which will cater to market needs at the earliest. Toyota will begin by loaning a few dozen of its HSRs to Preferred Networks for R&D purposes.

With its constantly expanding scope of application in recent years, robotic assistance has grown from industrial use to medical care as well as logistics. However, there still remain various technological issues in the field of service robots. This is due to the fact that such robots are required to adapt to individuals’ lives, make decisions, and respond adequately to different situations.

Toyota and PFN intend to develop service robots capable of learning in typical living environments and executing a variety of daily tasks.

“By engaging in joint research and development with Toyota, who created the HSR, we hope to accelerate development of the functions necessary for robots to work in human living environments. Our goal is to realize the practical implementation of service robots for the first time in the world.” - Toru Nishikawa, PFN President & CEO

Nobuhiko Koga, Chief Officer of Toyota’s Frontier Research Center, commented: “Since around 2004, Toyota has engaged in the development of partner robots that support both people with disabilities and the elderly, based on the concept of ‘coexisting with humans and assisting them in their daily lives.’ In 2012, we developed the HSR, which has a basic robotics platform for supporting independent living. Up to now, HSR has been used in research and development at 49 organizations in 13 countries including Japan, and has been highly praised as a robotics platform. Going forward toward our goal to develop service robots that better cater to the needs of our customers, we are excited by the prospect of collaborating in research and development with PFN, which boasts world-class intelligence technologies.”

Toru Nishikawa, President & CEO of PFN, said: “Since our establishment in 2014, at PFN we have used deep-learning to develop intelligent hardware for automobiles and industrial robots. At CEATEC Japan 2018, we demonstrated a robot capable of cleaning a room in a fully automated manner; we applied deep-learning technologies to create an HSR that could pick up and put down undefined objects, draw up its own operation plans, and respond to human instructions. HSR is an outstanding robotic platform. By engaging in joint research and development with Toyota, who created the HSR, we hope to accelerate development of the functions necessary for robots to work in human living environments. Our goal is to realize the practical implementation of service robots for the first time in the world.”