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Topics: Robots, Tokyo

Wednesday, 1 June 2005

image for Toyota aims to sell ‘helper' robots by 2010
Domo Aragoto Toyota Roboto

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor Corp plans to start selling robots that can help look after elderly people or serve tea to guests by 2010, the Asahi daily reported on Tuesday. Dr. Tadamitsu Masaki of the Toyota Institute for Really Fun Projects (TIRFP) said these robots would have a huge appeal to every culture worldwide but mostly, "Americans who have no respect for anyone older than the target market for MTV and snowboard equipment." Dr. Masaki said he expects Americans to purchase these robots in very large numbers to take care of elderly parents so that the children of these people "wouldn't need to be bothered driving 22 minutes across town to see if their mom or their dad is still alive."

These parent-watching robots would take away much of the guilt many American baby boomers feel now as they over-medicate their parents and leave them for months in homes which badly need both general electrical repairs and lawn maintenance. "Let's just say the robot is a better option than duct taping an 82 year old mother to a card table chair and putting a utility bucket underneath to catch excrement until her 57 year old son can stop playing golf long enough to check on her." Dr. Masaki did mention many male American ‘Star Trek' fans will not need the robots as not only are they still living at home, but their elderly mom is sill taking care of cooking and cleaning and many of the septuagenarian fathers continue working to pay the monthly fee for Junior's high speed cable modem.

Japan's top automaker sees a declining birthrate and aging population leading to growing demand for robots that can help in tasks such as nursing care, the report said. Right now it is not clear how Japan will accommodate several more self contained units which will be sharing living quarters with families and in housing complexes. "That's the problem of living on an island; lack of usable real estate" commented Professor Tetsuya Hirano of Osaka University's We Live on an Island Let's Not Make More Stuff to Store Here (WLILNMMSSH). Professor Hirano also pointed out this same problem of fixed logistics lies within the UK. Since the robot's other function in addition to caring for the elderly, is to make and serve tea, "I think we have an entertaining scenario as the British will purchase these robots en masse. As the main social undertaking in Britain is drinking hot brown water, there will be many of these robots imported and we can see which island sinks first. My guess is the UK becomes the next Atlantis ....Booyah!"

Professor Hirano went on to say other cultures will undoubtedly suggest other uses for the planned robots before they hit the market in 2010. "I have already received 6.1 million French requests to have the robots act as nothing more than a cigarette and condom dispenser and over 871 million requests by India to offer bovine-shaped robots.

Toyota will soon set up a liaison committee to develop technology for the robots with group firms, including car parts maker Denso Corp. "We could investigate a joint venture with American car parts manufacturers but it is vitally important these robots actually work as designed" added Dr. Masaki.

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