To help fuel efforts to create robot helpers for homes, Toyota Motor Corp is turning to Preferred Networks Inc to conduct joint research. The idea is to create service robots that can learn in “typical living environments,” Reuters reported.
Toyota said it would provide a dozen Human Support Robot (HSR) units to Preferred Networks. Over the next three years, the firms will cooperate on development, including intellectual property sharing.
Preferred Networks already uses the robot as a platform for its advanced artificial intelligence (AI) software. The robot cleaned up a messy room at an exhibition last year in Tokyo, where it could tell the difference between dirty towels and trash.
Toyota has been at work on service robots since 2004, with “a number” of models in development, per the report.
However, Reuters noted that the “HSR is the one it sees as closest to being ready for commercial applications.” The robot, which has one arm on a wheeled base, will reportedly be used at the summer Olympic Games next year in Tokyo to aid with tasks like getting drinks for observers.
Toyota is looking to transform itself as well as adapt to innovations that are disrupting the auto space. For instance, the company is planning to invest $600 million in ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing in a move to develop new car technologies in China, per reports in July.
Toyota will also make a new joint venture as it seeks to advance connected and electric vehicles in China, per reports at the time. The new venture includes its partnership with China’s GAC Group and aims to advance vehicle rental services, fleet management and maintenance. Toyota is also partnering with Japanese auto parts maker Denso Corp.
Automakers are teaming up with ride-hailing firms such as Didi as a way to introduce their own services and advance the next generation of connected vehicle technologies.