They guide visitors, chat with clients, clean homes, ferry patients around in a hospital and even play the violin. Meet Toyota's new breed of robots, which are expected to go mainstream, as early as 2010.
Robina (ROBot as INtelligent Assistant) is one of the most polite guides you will ever meet. Her job is to guide visitors through the Toyota Kaikan Exhibition Hall. This four-foot robot is completely independent and can navigate around obstacles, chat with guests and even sign autographs in "cursive".
Even more impressive is the Violin Robot, which played a near flawless rendition of the song "Pomp and Circumstance" - a very famous composition by Edward Elgar. The five-foot tall, all white robot used its mechanical fingers to press the strings correctly and bowed with the other arm, all with almost perfect coordination. Toyota hopes to be able to use this Robot to cheer patients at hospitals or entertain elderly people in homes.
The third robot introduced was a wheelchair-like "mobility robot", that could help the elderly or sick people move around in hospitals. The robot can navigate its way around bumps and slopes without disturbing the person sitting on it. Toyota's vision is to continue creating similar robots that will help people with their daily lives.