Toyota Using VR Tech To Housebreak Robots

Toyota's got a lot more up their sleeves than cars.

Toyota wants you to live in a world where you don't have to lift a finger to get things done at home, a world where robots take care of all of those mundane domestic tasks - just like in The Jetsons.

As such, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) is going a bit of a different route as they look to change the game. Come to think of it, they're employing tech more commonly used in gaming.

The Japanese automakers are now using virtual reality to train those helpful bots as VR tech makes it so that human teachers see exactly what the robot sees in 3D, making it easier to direct movements and give instructions.

Human trainers are able to teach the machines arbitrary tasks as opposed to tasks set in a strict system.

"We teach the robot using an immersive telepresence system, in which there is a model of the robot, mirroring what the robot is doing," TRI's report explains.

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"The teacher sees what the robot is seeing live, in 3D, from the robot's sensors. The teacher can select different behaviors to instruct and then annotate the 3D scene, such as associating parts of the scene to a behavior, specifying how to grasp a handle, or drawing the line that defines the axis of rotation of a cabinet door.

"When teaching a task, a person can try different approaches, making use of their creativity to use the robot's hands and tools to perform the task. This makes leveraging and using different tools easy, allowing humans to quickly transfer their knowledge to the robot for specific situations.

"Historically, robots, like most automated cars, continuously perceive their surroundings, predict a safe path, then compute a plan of motions based on this understanding."

There's a lot more work to do still and, as the video above shows, TRI is working on research prototypes, not product concepts.

Who knows? This research could lead to much ease around the house in the future. Maybe Toyota will let BMW build the battery for the final versions of their bots too.

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