Toyota is probably best known for its cars, but the company has also developed a large number of robots in recent decades. Now the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has unveiled a new home robot that would descend from an overhead framework to perform household chores.
The concept robot that Toyota calls a “gantry robot” moves with the help of rails that are mounted in the ceiling. It can be called when needed and then perform all the same tasks as a floor-based mobile robot – such as loading the dishwasher, wiping surfaces, and clearing clutter – but with the innovative overhead mobility system.
By traveling on the ceiling, the robot avoids the problems of navigating household floor clutter and navigating cramped spaces. When not in use, the robot would tuck itself up out of the way.
The idea behind the installation in the ceiling is that the robot should not be in the way in the smaller homes that many people live in nowadays. If you live in a 40-50 square meters house, you may not want a robot that takes up one of these square meters, nor that it should be in the way when it moves.
You can watch the entire 40-minute presentation in 360º video on YouTube, where Toyota showed off some of the research aimed at amplifying human ability in the home that it’s been working on recently.
It seems problematic to install such a robot in an apartment with 2.5 m high ceilings. But if the house was originally designed with the gantry robot in mind, this brings many benefits: simplified navigation, direct connection to the electrical system of the house, lighter robot construction, etc.
It is perhaps a little doubtful whether we will see such robots in their homes in the future. It seems very slow, and the tasks it performs probably do not justify the multi-million investment in an apartment that a robot like this would cost.