Japan’s Toyota unveils nursing robots

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, November 1, 2011 7:36 EDT
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Car giant Toyota on Tuesday unveiled nursing and healthcare robots aimed at helping the frail and the elderly, as the company seeks to capitalise on Japan’s ageing society.

The four robots are designed to help people who have difficulty walking and to give nurses a helping hand with lifting immobile patients.

Toyota, one of the world’s biggest automakers, said it had applied technology developed in cars, such as precise control of motors at high speeds, in the design of the robots.

“Everyone is thinking it’s hard to predict the future, but definitely the future is an ageing society,” said Eiichi Saito, professor at Fujita Health University, which jointly developed the robots.

“These kind of robots will help people who might have trouble being mobile on their own to be independent.”

The Independent Walk Assist robot is strapped to the user’s leg and uses sensors to predict movements and augment their power and strength.

The Walk Training Assist robot is designed to help those who have suffered a stroke or injury to regain the use of their legs in a natural way.

The Patient Transfer Assist, which combines weight-supporting arms and a mobile platform, is intended to help caregivers lift patients into and out of bed, with arms that act in a similar way to human limbs, Toyota said.

The two-wheeled Balance Training Assist robot is aimed at rehabilitation, allowing patients to play sports such as tennis or football as part of their therapy.

Toyota is looking to launch the products commercially in 2013 and is initially looking only at the Japanese market.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
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