Toyota premieres violin-playing robot

Toyota unveiled on Thursday a violin playing robot and said it hopes to have a viable human assistance robots in the early 2010s.

Toyota unveiled on Thursday the latest two creations from its robot project, including one that can play the violin, and said it is targeting the early 2010s for the development of a viable human-assistance robot.

The two new machines are the Mobiro, a sort-of motorized wheel chair that can scoot people around their neighborhood and is able to cope with uneven surfaces, and the Violin-Playing Robot. Toyota has already developed a robot capable of playing the trumpet, so with a little extra effort the company could soon have an entire band.

Like the Segway transporter, the Mobiro runs on two wheels and manages to maintain its balance. This distinguishes it from other forms of motorized transport tested so far for human use. The Mobiro rider sits in a chair and manipulates the robot through controls in the chair's arm rests. It's can cope with 10 degree slopes and turn on the spot.

Perhaps more interestingly it will automatically move to its owner when called by a remote control and avoid objects and obstacles in its way while it does so. The Mobiro can also be used to carry cargo or other people and in this mode it automatically follows its owner or keeps a few steps ahead of them.

The 150-kilogram Mobiro has a 20-kilometer range and field tests will begin in the second half of 2008.

The Violin-Playing Robot may have an unimaginative name but it's capable of some pretty impressive musical moves. The robot can hold the violin in place with one hand and move the bow with its other hand to produce a perfect-sounding tune. It can also move the fingers of its left hand, which rest at the violin's neck, to produce a tremolo effect.

It stands 1.5 meters tall and weighs 56 kilograms, which puts it not far off the height and weight of an average Japanese woman.

At a Tokyo news conference held to unveil the two new robots, Toyota also showed its Robina robot, which made its first public appearance in the middle of this year. The Robina is designed for face-to-face communication with humans. In that role, the robot served as a guide at the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall in Toyota City in August this year.

The robot can automatically navigate a route through obstacles and, by holding a pen in one hand and a piece of card in the other, sign its signature on the card.

Toyota is one of many Japanese companies actively investigating robotics and the areas that go hand-in-hand with the technology, such as artificial intelligence. While violin playing and autograph signing may appear to be nothing more than whimsical tricks they require a high level of mechanical and electrical control and are the kind of tasks that engineers need to perfect before they take the next step towards human assistance.

Japan's rapidly aging society is providing the push behind all these projects.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?