Japanese automakers are looking beyond the industry trend to develop self-driving cars and turning their attention to robots to help keep the country’s rapidly graying society on the move.
Toyota said it saw the possibility of becoming a mass producer of robots to help the elderly in a country whose population is ageing faster than the rest of the world as the birthrate decreases.
The country’s changing demographics place its automakers in a unique situation. Along with the issues usually associated with falling populations such as labor shortages and pension squeezes, Japan also faces dwindling domestic demand for cars.
Company launches exoskeletons and personal care robots, and calls for ‘smiling faces and laughter’ from old people
Panasonic has shown off a range of newly developed exoskeletons and personal care robots. Some are designed to be worn by industrial workers to help them lift objects with less effort. Others are programmed to make old people laugh, says the company.
The “power assist suits”, as the company calls them, were developed by Activelink, one of Panasonic’s in-house venture companies, and are aimed at industrial workers.