Toyota Develops Robotic Avatar Controlled Over a 5G Network
Matthew Greenwood posted on December 27, 2018 |

Toyota has developed a remote-controlled robot that can be controlled in real time by an operator working miles away.

The T-HR3 humanoid robotic proxy is designed to work alongside humans, —so it needs to react in real time to properly assist them. Previous versions of the robot accomplished this with a direct wired connection, which limited its mobility and usefulness.

The new robot, however, is free to move around a work environment without a wire tether thanks to a high-bandwidth 5G network connection. In fact, testing has shown that the robot can be controlled seamlessly by an operator up to six miles away.

The robot is controlled remotely by a Master Maneuvering System, consisting of a base with wearable hand, arm and foot controls, and a head-mounted display that lets the operator see what the robot sees. The T-HR3 is equipped with sensors in each joint, which communicate the operator’s movements to the robot’s 29 body parts. The feedback from these sensors is processed through the maneuvering system’s 16 master control systems to create a smooth interface with little to no lag between the controller and bot.

The system’s master arms grant an operator a full range of motion to move the robot’s arms. The master foot allows the operator to direct the robot to move while the operator sits in place. The T-HR3’s control system includes technology that operates automatically to ensure the robot and user do not disrupt each other’s movements. The robot sends force feedback to the operator.

A remote-control robotic avatar opens up a range of possibilities. Robots like Toyota’s could be deployed in environments that require precise interaction with surroundings that could be dangerous or difficult for human workers. Doctors could use these robots to treat patients remotely. Additionally, elderly or disabled people could use the robot to perform physical tasks they may not be able to undertake themselves.

“Looking ahead, the core technologies developed for this platform will help inform and advance future development of robots to provide ever-better mobility for all,” said Akifumi Tamaoki, general manager of Toyota’s Partner Robot division.

Toyota and DOCOMO, which developed the low-latency 5G communication technology used by the robot, intend to continue conducting trials in which they will put the robotic avatar to use in various situations. DOCOMO aims to roll out commercialized 5G services in the spring of 2020.

The companies’ long-term goal is to develop additional 5G-based mobility technologies that would help create a “prosperous society of mobility.”

To learn more about robotic avatars, check out Robotic Avatars Could Perform Dangerous Space Missions.

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