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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 10:59 12/10/2007
News Review #423: December 7, 2007

Toyota's New Robot Can Play the Violin, Help the Aged

Reviewed by Takahiro MIYAO

Toyota's New Robot Can Play the Violin, Help the Aged
AFP (12/7/2007)


Toyota has just unveiled a new robot that can play the violin beautifully to show that the auto company is now trying to make robotics a core business for the future. Another new robot, displayed at the same time, is called a "mobility robot," offering "bed-to-bed" services to people, especially the aged and the sick, "just like cars take people door-to-door," according to Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe. Come to think of it, cars are almost robots which can control themselves with minimal inputs from drivers and, therefore, robotics is a natural extension of automobile business.

In fact, this is not just a strategy of auto business for the future, but a main pillar of the nation's growth strategy, called "Innovation 25" (, where the government is encouraging the development and application of new types of robots to assist humans in Japan's aging society. It looks like a good idea for the government to push, as Japan has already become one of the largest countries in terms of robot population.

However, it is doubtful if consumer-oriented robots such as "mobility robots" can possibly be a profitable business in the foreseeable future. Hybrid cars have become popular worldwide, because of urgent problems in energy and the environment in global scale. But robots would likely be too expensive to replace humans in carrying the aged or playing the violin for that matter, given the potential sources of abundant supply of health care workers, musicians, etc. at the global level, if not in Japan. Auto companies such as Toyota and Honda probably need more than promotional tactics such as playing music to develop a global market for robots in the future.

This review is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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