Is your room a mess? This robot might help! In this July 24, 2015 photo, Toyota's engineer Kouichi Ikeda looks at new HSR, left, short for "human support robot," at a welfare and nursing exposition in Yokohama, south of Tokyo. Toyota's new robot that glides around like an R2-D2 is devoted to a single task: picking things up. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Is your room a mess? This robot might help!

Toyota's new robot that glides around like R2-D2 from Star Wars is devoted to a single task: picking things up.

HSR, is short for "human support robot." It comes with a single mechanical arm that can grasp objects of various shapes and sizes and also pick up smaller items with a tiny suction cup.

It doesn't have other tricks in its repertoire, except for a computer panel on its head for surfing the Internet. A person can also access the robot from another computer and use it like a camera-phone.

Kouichi Ikeda, its engineer, is serious about using it to help around regular homes. It would first be used for people with disabilities and then for the elderly in general. Picking up is especially challenging for people with spinal disorders and other ailments that hamper the ability to stoop down and grab, he said.

"Although it can only do one simple task of picking up, it's already making disabled people quite happy. We're just getting started, but eventually we want it to enter people's homes," Ikeda said at an exhibition of health care technology in Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo.

Nearly 40 percent of Japan's population will be 65 or older by 2060. And with the rest of the developed world and some developing nations following that track, Toyota is banking on the demand for robot helpers to grow.

"People feel more comfortable asking a robot to pick up after them than asking a human helper," said Tadashi Hatakenaka, manager and engineer at the Yokohama Rehabilitation Center.

A robot like HSR is also ideal to replace service dogs, which go through special training to help people with various disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, have balance issues or may be prone to seizures, he said.

Toyota came up with the basic concept model for HSR in 2012.

The revamped model should be ready to enter universities, research facilities and businesses next year, in partnerships to develop more applications, so the robot can enter homes as quickly as possible.

One drawback is cost. Mass production is needed for the price to come down. Toyota declined to give the current price.

Ikeda showed how HSR can be controlled relatively easily by tapping on a tablet device to fetch a TV remote-controller.

The 4-foot-4 tall robot has several cameras, including two on its head that look like its eyes and sensors on its body. It scoots quietly around in all directions.

Unlike the robotic arms at auto-assembly plants, HSR's grip and bumps are designed to be soft so they can't hurt anyone. But it can pick up items that weigh up to 2.6 pounds.

There was no attempt to make its design cute, like the Pepper childlike robot that recently went on sale in Japan from Japanese Internet company Softbank Corp.

Toyota has long been working on robots, including a human-shaped one with fingers dexterous enough to play the trumpet. Another plays the violin.

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Why might this robot be more helpful to people in Japan than other countries?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • p1-haily-pen
    8/13/2015 - 09:10 a.m.

    Well, in the article it said that in 2060 40% of Japan will be sixty-years and older. This shows that a majority of Japan is made up of people that are growing up by the amount of time. When Ikeda puts this robot up for sale, he will be able to release it into the world.But by the time he releases it to be able to go into homes, it may be a few years. Thus saying that the people growing up will be closer to the age that the HSR will be released. And they will need the help of it by then.

  • p3-kayla-pen
    8/13/2015 - 11:41 a.m.

    I think this robot is cool, It could be very useful to a lot of people. It can clean for you and surf the web which is cool. Also, It has cameras on all sides of it so it can see where its going and what to pick up. It's cool, and if I could buy one of them, I would.

  • p3-hudson-pen
    8/13/2015 - 11:41 a.m.

    This article was very interesting. It talked a lot about how the HSR (Human Support Robot) could help other people with disabilities. I think that this robot will help a lot of people in the future, and I hope that the price will be affordable. So older people will have access to it.

    8/31/2015 - 08:26 p.m.

    Japan is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. Because of Japan’s tech savvy culture, their innovations improve lifestyles in other societies. The HSR can be useful to many people, especially the elderly and disabled. This device could make that specific group of people’s lives less difficult and more normalized by affording them the opportunity to keep their living space clean without relying on another human being. Japan’s ability to see problems in the world and find ways to solve them through technology aids all societies.

    9/02/2015 - 09:26 p.m.

    Japan’s high-tech culture is becoming more evident now than ever. Japan has always been, and always will be, known for being technologically advanced. As simple as the HSR’s job may seem, it will help many people, especially those of old age. The elderly will not have to worry about cleaning their house or picking up items that could increase the risk of injury. Overall, Japan’s culture is all about finding ways to make the world a better place to live, succeed, and prepare for our future generations.

  • rodney-hab
    9/03/2015 - 11:56 a.m.

    all this for elderly what about lazy kids who are tired of picking up after other people it's a robot right it's clean perfect

  • simom-pru
    9/10/2015 - 11:00 a.m.

    I do agree that Japan is one of the most advanced in technology because they made some of the first robots(Like this one).

  • marih-pru
    9/10/2015 - 11:07 a.m.

    How much would it cost if I wanted one? ????

  • taylorr-day
    9/18/2015 - 10:46 p.m.

    If this product were to sell in the U.S. it would lead to a more extreme trend of laziness in Americans. Our culture has excelled in finding ways to make every day tasks easier, cleaning a teenagers room might be the only one left that has yet to be approached in a more efficient way.

  • slaytons-mil
    9/21/2015 - 10:30 a.m.

    I think that it is a good idea.I think that it will be good because japan makes most things in the world.It could really help the elder and the disabled.I think it will help are world.I think this willl help a lot of people in this world.

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