Toyota's interest in robotics is well known. However, this time the company has chosen to use advanced robotics to manufacture a device, which would help in the rehabilitation of people with paralysis.
The company unveiled its Welwalk WW-1000 in Tokyo on Wednesday, April 12. The Welwalk is essentially a robotic brace for the leg, designed to let people who are partially paralyzed to get back up and walk.
The robotic leg brace is made up of a mechanical motorized frame, which can be fitted to a person's leg. The person wearing it can then practice walking on a specialized treadmill, which is designed to support the extra weight of the brace.
Toyota revealed that it would rent out 100 of these Welwalk devices to medical centers in Japan for a one-time 1 million yen (roughly $9,000) charge and a monthly 350,000 yen (approximately $3,200) fee.
The leg brace is supposed to be worn on one leg for people who are paralyzed on one side of the body owing to strokes or other medical conditions.
The person who wears the brace will be supported by a harness from above while they walk. This will ensure that they do not suffer any injury. Moreover, it will also provide them with ample support. After a while, the device's sensors would be able to adjust to the user by monitoring their walking pattern, while medical staff controls it manually through a touch panel screen.
Doctors stated that this system will help patients recover faster as it can offer support and freedom of movement, which is impossible for a therapist to provide.
Other Developments In The Field Of Robotics
Toyota has been working tirelessly toward making robotics an inimical part of day-to-day life. Previously, the company developed robots which could not only converse, but also play the piano and violin. The company is now working on a tiny boy-like robot, which can converse and provide companionship to people. Toyota has invested heavily in artificial intelligence technology as well.
"We have been developing industrial robotics for auto manufacturing, and we are trying to figure out how we can use that technology to fill social needs and help people more," stated Toshiyuki Isobe, Chief Research Officer at Toyota.
ReWalk Robotics, a company in Israel, has also developed an exoskeleton suit powered by batteries. This suit, when worn by people relying on wheelchair, allows them to stand up and even walk.
With innovations such as these, it seems the world will soon rely on robotics and advanced artificial intelligence to perform complex functions, which would in turn benefit individuals and society as a whole.
Check out the below video to see how Welwalk works.