Toyota tunes up robo-violinist

Toyota tunes up robo-violinist

Robotics to be a 'core business' by 2020

Toyota has announced a major push into robotics, showing off its latest creations including human-sized robot that can play the violin.

The company demonstrated a 5ft robot with 17 joints in each hand and arm performing a full rendition of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance. The rendition was note perfect, but was described by some as "stilted".

"Over the next two to three years, we will put the robots to the test through trial applications and see what kind of business possibilities they present," Toyota president Katsuaki Watanabe told The Guardian.

Robotics will become a core business for Toyota by 2020. The company will unveil medical robots next year, and plans more advanced "partner robots" for domestic duties, nursing, healthcare and short-distance personal transport by 2010.

Toyota also showed off Robina, a wheeled robot with a human torso which has been working as a guide at Toyota's showroom in Tokyo for the past year, answering questions and signing autographs.

A third design, dubbed Mobina, is a two-wheeled 4mph motorised wheelchair that can navigate a variety of surfaces for 13 miles between charges. The company also plans a version that acts as a porter.

Toyota is a comparative newcomer in the robotics field compared to manufacturers such as Honda.

Demand for robots is strong in Japan, particularly in the domestic and medical fields.