Toyota and AI startup Preferred Networks team up to enhance assistant robots

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Toyota is planning to go “even deeper” into the burgeoning frontier of industry and service robots very soon. To aid with this task, it has unveiled its enlisted partnership with Japan-based AI startup company, Preferred Networks.

The Human Support Robot (HSR) platform was the brainchild of Toyota’s research and development in 2012. The basic framework of robots designed for this platform is versatility, specifically being able to assist humans in doing everyday tasks.

The official announcement yesterday detailed that the joint development project will be primarily using this platform. Preferred Networks will be loaned with several dozen HSR units, which it will use provide additional assistance to its ongoing research and development, and to collaborate new ideas that could improve the platform as a whole.

The initial time period for the project is slated for three years. During this time, the two companies will merge their ideas, IPs, and respective application technologies in an effort speed up its development cycle. According to the announcement, each company will be able to freely use any data that will be acquired from this research for any individual, non-collaborative purpose.

Preferred Networks was founded in 2014. The company was established in order to further develop ideas and understand the current IT industry with the help of AI. Specifically, the company specializes in utilizing deep learning AI for various internet of things (IoT) applications.

In terms of user experience, this is not actually the first time Preferred Networks started a project involving Toyota’s HSR units. Just last year, the company has demonstrated its advanced cleaning robot at CEATEC 2018, where it demonstrated updated item identification capability, speech recognition, as well as automated handling of unknown or potentially unsafe materials.

As mentioned earlier, the joint research project is expected to provide positive results in the overall efforts of both companies to develop practical, human service-oriented robots.

The focus is to provide support to users with relatively impaired physical functionalities, such as people with disabilities, or the elderly, which is one of the ever-growing population representatives in Japan.

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