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Toyota Gives Robots a Soft Touch, Better Vision

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a Toyota Research Institute robot lifts a clear glass

TRI's robots can understand clear or reflective surfaces, a sensing task that foiled earlier robots.

Credit: Toyota Research Institute

Researchers at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) in Los Altos, CA, are working on robots that will help people in day-to-day life. They have developed a soft touch sensing gripper that helps robots determine the right amount of force to grip an item and help identify objects by touch. TRI researchers also have developed methods to help robots understand clear or reflective surfaces.

Bigger goals remain. "What you don't see today is humans and robots really interfacing together, which really limits how much robots can amplify humans' ability," says Max Bajracharya, vice president of robotics at TRI.

To address this challenge, TRI is focusing on Intelligence Amplification, which involves enhancing humans' superior intelligence with a robot's strength, precision, persistence, and repeatability.

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