Toyota unveils quartet of nursing robots

Japanese company hopes to commercialize the devices after 2013

November 3, 2011

Toyota this week unveiled four experimental health care robots to help disabled hospital patients regain mobility and help health care workers move impaired patients, AP/ABC News reports.

The devices, which are part of the Japanese company's Partner Robot series, were created in collaboration with Fujita Health University Hospital in Japan. Toyota seeks to commercialize the devices sometime after 2013.

One of the devices, called the Independent Walk Assist, is a computerized metallic brace to help disabled hospital patients regain the ability walk. The battery-powered exoskeleton uses sensors to detect movement in the thigh and foot and swings the patient's knee forward accordingly. Eiichi Saitoh, a professor of rehabilitation medicine, tested the device on patients and said it appears to expedite recovery from strokes and other ailments that limit mobility.

The other devices Toyota unveiled include:

  • The Walk Training Assist, which provides full-body support to impaired patients seeking to regain natural steps;
  • The Balance Training Assist, which functions like a skateboard to help patient relearn balance; and
  • The Patient Transfer Assist, which helps health care workers lift and carry patients (Kageyama, AP/ABC News, 11/1; Brown, Wired UK, 11/2).

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