Japan looks to robots for help

September 28, 2012 8:43 am
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Japan’s future population may soon be calling their robots to help them. These electronic robots are designed to serve and assist the growing numbers of old people in Japan
Toyota Motor Corporation launched a new robot. The robot, dubbed HSR – Human Support Robot – can act as an extra remote pair of hands for its owner. It answers commands issued from a tablet, or by spoken voice.
The HSR can pick things up off the ground, open curtains, and fetch objects from tables or high surfaces. The robot’s aim is to help the growing number of Japanese elderly, and Toyota envisions a large market for this.
“This is big business, as it’s not just Japan, but the whole world, which is growing older,” said Naomasa Sugaya, a salesman for rehabilitation products. “Japan can use its high-tech expertise to win out against its trading rivals, China and Korea.”
Although Toyota’s rival Honda Motor Corporation’s “Asimo” robot has been demonstrated running, talking, dancing, and even playing soccer, it has yet to find its niche in homes or hospitals.
According to Takashi Yamamoto, general manager of advanced technology at Tokyo Motor Corporation, “Japan’s society is aging more rapidly than any other in the world. Because of the low birth-rate, we face a future lack of younger caregivers for the elderly. Our robot will be a useful tool to help the elderly, and those who suffer from loss of mobility in their limbs. Our robots will become partners in their lives, and help them do things like household chores which would otherwise be impossible for them.”
Even now, one in four Japanese citizens is aged 65 or over.
Hiroshi Okano, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Institute, said, “It may take some time for the robots to come into use, as we face a challenge in people’s fear of machines.”
Tough immigration laws and a difficult language make it difficult for Japan to admit immigrants to assist with the care of the elderly. Hence this solution.
Japan’s expertise in robotic engineering makes these latest developments a natural solution for the country’s problems.

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