Toyota's new robot will take selfies while cleaning your counters

To show off its skills, the robot recorded itself, selfie-style, while taking care of household cleaning tasks.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read

Monday is of course National Selfie Day, and Toyota's Research Institute is here to celebrate the holiday with its friendly robot -- a robot that wants to take selfies while it works around the house. The unnamed machine is the latest step forward in TRI's robotics studies as engineers and far smarter minds than myself worked to teach the robot new skills, the firm said Monday.

One of the bigger problems surrounds reflective or transparent items. Robots can't distinguish between them very well, TRI said. However, TRI's latest robot helper can, with what TRI called a training method with 3D geometry and synthetic data. This complex process allows the robot to understand objects in a space, move them out of the way and identify the difference between, say, a mirror and a glass table. 

Glass cups are also a hurdle TRI overcame with these wild processes. In the video above, you can see the robot move the cups out of the way to continue cleaning a surface. All of this led to a breakthrough TRI calls "programmable data." The robot can take synthetic data to recreate a situation and learn, rather than collect physical data for quite some time, and then practice a task.

This machine right now primarily focuses on cleaning and helping around the house, and that's a goal for the firm. TRI said it's not in the business of building robots to replace human activities, but to help humans with tasks. It's especially true for older folks who may need a hand with carrying groceries and those kinds of things. And, hey, the robot will happily take a selfie while carrying out its tasks. That's neat and sort of unnerving, all at once.

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