Toyota Research Institute developing robots to assist the elderly at home

Toyota Research Institute is teaching robots to help the elderly perform home tasks.

As many countries across the world are experiencing surges in the proportion of elderly persons in their populations, ensuring that all people are properly attended to becomes increasingly difficult. To address this challenge, Toyota's Research Institute announced late last week that an at-home assistant robot is in development, one that has the capacity to continuously learn how to do new tasks in all types of homes.

With the primary goal to assist the increasing ratio of older persons across the world, Toyota recently announced that their Research Institute is developing an at-home robot assistant whose intelligence continuously evolves.

Via a technology called fleet learning (the same science enabling Tesla's network of autonomously driving vehicles to get better at traveling without human intervention), these robots use cloud robotics and deep learning to share know-how with all bots in the network, allowing the others to perform the same task in their respective environments. According to Toyota, this technology allows the fleet to "achieve an exponential increase in robotic capabilities."

New tasks can be taught to the robots by humans in addition to being programmed within the software; such fine-tuning gives the robots highly specific abilities otherwise not developed by the Research Institute. Even so, the robots will be delivered with an extensive repertoire of skills and the ability to adapt to different and evolving homes. The team "teach[es] the robot to perform arbitrary tasks with a variety of objects, rather than program the robot to perform specific predefined tasks with specific objects," so that the robots can approach similar -- albeit not exactly the same -- situations accordingly.

While these robots are being developed to help older individuals gain a higher quality of life, Toyota sees this technology also expanding towards manufacturing facilities. As of right now, only prototypes of these robots exist -- the company does not comment on when they could hit the market.