Earth’s population is rapidly aging. Whereas today there are ten people under age 65 for every one senior, the United Nations projects it will be just five to one by 2050. In some countries like Japan, it’ll be less than two to one, which means we will need solutions for how to take care of a growing group of seniors in the future.
Enter Toyota, the Japanese automaker that believes home robots will help us meet the challenge of enabling older people to live independently longer. At the Toyota Research Institute, the automaker recently showcased a gravity-defying robot that can adapt to different homes and help take care of chores such as cleaning.
The robot hangs from the ceiling and drops down when needed to wipe counters, clear clutter, and load the dishwasher. When it’s not needed, it folds back into the ceiling. Not only does this eliminate the navigation problem, but it also addresses the issue of storage.
“Many homes, especially those in Japan, are very small and cluttered and have no room for a floor dwelling robot…so we decided to explore a robot that could take advantage of space above,” said Dan Helmick, co-lead of TRI’s Robotics Fleet Learning Team.
Before you start calling Toyota to have them install a cleaning robot in your house, know this: the TRI researchers don’t expect anyone to actually hang this cleaning robot in their home. Rather, the idea is that new homes could be designed with the robot built right in, making them available to the aging population of the future.