Toyota has a new, third-generation humanoid robot bears the charming name “T-HR3” and is designed to be a helpful and safe assistant to humans. It also features a so-called “master maneuvering systems,” which is essentially a VR-powered remote operating platform that a human can use to have the T-HR3 mirror its movements. Yes, kind of like a jaeger from kaiju movie Pacific Rim.
The T-HR3 is designed to work in an assistant capacity to humans across a range of different potential uses, including in-home care, at hospitals, on construction sites, in areas impacted by disaster and even, Toyota says, in the far reaches of outer space. The robot resembles a somewhat short person with long arms and smooth white panels covering its mechanical bits, with optical sensors but into the head.
An operator in the Master Maneuvering System has both arm and leg coverings that will convey their movements to the robot, allowing the operator to use a full range of motion to walk in place, manipulate arms and even grip with direct translation of their natural actions. The operator can also see from the robot’s perspective, thanks to a head-mounted display (an HTC Vive, in the video) they wear.[gallery ids="1570016,1570017,1570019"]
The synced up movement also has safeguards in place to ensure that the robot’s movements don’t interfere with the operator, so that you can’t accidentally (or intentionally, I guess) club yourself with the bot while sitting in the chair.
Remotely operated, dexterous humanoid robots have a lot of potential across basically all of human activity. And if we happen to need to defend against inter-dimensional kaiju invaders, at least now we have a path to make that happen.