November 1, 2011
Toyota Shows Off New Robots To Aid Hospital Caregivers
Four “smart” machines, or robots, designed for use in nursing and healthcare facilities, were unveiled yesterday by Toyota, who hopes to create an array of specialized tools to address Japan´s increasingly ageing population. A population with a growing need for physical care that its current healthcare system is finding more difficult to keep up with, AFP is reporting.
Toyota, primarily known for making cars, has a long history of designing robots for manufacturing and the next generation of these robots will be able to help people who have difficulty walking and to give nurses a helping hand with lifting immobile patients.
“Everyone is thinking it´s hard to predict the future, but definitely the future is an ageing society,” said Eiichi Saito, professor at Fujita Health University, which jointly developed the robots. “These kind of robots will help people who might have trouble being mobile on their own to be independent.”
The “Independent Walk Assist” was demonstrated by Saito, by strapping the computerized metallic brace onto his right leg, which was paralyzed by polio. The brace could bend at the knee and allowed him to walk naturally and rise from a chair with greater ease.
Another machine with padded arms, the “Patient Transfer Assist”, combines weight-supporting arms and a mobile platform intended to help caregivers lift patients into and out of bed, with arms that act in a similar way to human limbs, reports AP business writer Yuri Kageyama.
The two-wheeled “Balance Training Assist”, aimed at rehabilitating patients to enjoy sports such as tennis or football as part of their therapy.
The “Walk Training Assist” incorporates Independent Walk Assist technology and assists in the development of natural walking from the early training stage for people whose walking is impaired by stroke or paralysis.
Toyota officials claim technology currently used in autos such as sensors, motors and computer software are being used in such computerized gadgets to help people get around will likely be of use in future vehicles.
Akifumi Tamaoki ,Toyota General Manager, promises additional testing to assure safety and reliability and is looking to launch the products commercially in 2013 and is initially looking only at the Japanese market.
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