Researchers at Toyota Research Institute (TRI) have unveiled the future of robots for the smart home, with a collection of new machines trained to assist the elderly, reported The Verge.
TRI is concerned about the upcoming worldwide demographic Armageddon. From 2020-2040, growth will be flat among the child-bearing population. Meanwhile, 40-70-year-olds will rise in total population size, but 70-80-year-olds, and particularly the 80+-year-olds, will see large increases.
The older population’s future surge will be a demographic timebomb that will strain many western economies. TRI believes it could alleviate some of the pressure by providing at-home robots to assist older generations.
TRI recently offered the world a glimpse into a mock-up home environment built in its labs in California, where it has been testing its prototype robots. One of the robots it’s testing is called the “gantry robot,” which is suspended from the ceiling and can complete basic kitchen tasks like cleaning dishes.
“Toyota says the robot’s design was inspired by trips to Japanese homes, where researchers found that limited floor space would constrain a robot’s ability to help. Their solution was to imagine a future home built with robots directly integrated into the architecture. Building new robot-assisted homes from scratch would create its own problems, of course, but the design itself does solve some issues,” said The Verge.
Dan Helmick, co-lead of robotics fleet learning at TRI, said the robot navigates the ceiling and avoids clutter on the floor.
“What if instead of needing a robot to navigate the cluttered floor, it could travel on the ceiling instead, and be tucked out of the way when it’s not needed,” said Helmick.
And imagine, by 2040, the oldest millennial will be roughly 63 years old, which means they could very likely have these butler robots suspended from their ceilings, aiding them in daily tasks around the house.
But will the broke millennials of today be able to afford these future robots?