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  (Source: search.japantimes.co.jp)

  (Source: mdn.mainichi.jp)
Will robots make humans more productive or lazier?

Toyota Motor Corp. and the University of Tokyo have jointly developed a prototype robot named “AR” capable of handling household chores according to The Mainichi Daily News. In a demonstration for reporters the robot was able to clean up rooms, put away dishes from a dining table and pickup shirts and put them in a washing machine. The robot was also capable of moving furniture in order to sweep under a table.

The robot is 155 cm tall, weighs 130 kg, and moves around on wheels. This particular robot’s strengths include the ability to distinguish different objects such as furniture and cleaning equipment. Past robots have traditionally had difficulty handling anything other than solid objects, but AR is able to recognize clothes by their creases and actually pick them up, repeating the action should it drop them.

The robot is also able to learn by analyzing past failures and alter its behavior patterns. The robot is equipped with two arms, five recognition cameras and laser sensors. AR's movements are slow and often clumsy, but future improvements are planned according to University of Tokyo Professor Masayuki Inaba who said, "The task now is to improve its efficiency and endurance."

According to Toyota and Tokyo University's Information and Robot Technology Research Initiative, the robot was developed to help ease the future labor shortage looming due to Japan's aging society and low birthrate. The developers said they will keep improving the robot and hope to start marketing it in around seven years.





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