We pause your regularly scheduled programming of automotive news to make a very special introduction. Meet Romulo Camargo, a decorated U.S. Army veteran and former Special Forces soldier. He was serving in Afghanistan in 2008 when a bullet struck him in the neck, paralyzing him from the neck down. It was touch-and-go for awhile; he wasn’t expected to live, and even then, doctors said he would need a respirator to breathe. He’s proven everyone wrong on both occasions.
Toyota has been working with Camargo since 2015, when the company stepped in to help him and his wife Gaby open Stay In Step, a non-profit center that helps provide treatment and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injuries. The automaker has been working on technology to give some measure of independence back to people like Camargo, which led to the development of the Human Assist Robot – better known as HSR. Toyota delivered the HSR to Camargo for its first in-home trial to see how it functions in a real-world scenario. Judging by the reactions in the video posted above, we’d say it has a promising future.
Toyota unveiled the HSR on June 30 in a ceremony at Daytona International Speedway, as part of the pre-race ceremonies leading up to the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR race on July 1.
“At Toyota, we have a commitment to enriching lives by advancing mobility for all – whether it’s around town or across your living room,” said Doug Moore, Toyota’s senior manager of technology and human support. “This includes developing technology solutions to assist people with limited mobility.”
The robot is designed to perform basic functions such as opening doors and picking up objects, but it also senses and responds to the environment. If Camargo instructs the robot to bring him a bottle water, the HSR can find and recognize the bottle, then find Camargo. The tasks may seem simple, but for a high-level quadriplegic even such basic activities require assistance. The HSR gives just a bit more independence, but is also serves as a stepping stone to more advanced systems.
Romulo Camargo is an inspiration to all, and it’s always heartwarming to see manufacturers like Toyota stepping up to help those in need. Camargo says he will walk again someday, and with his record of beating on the odds, we absolutely believe that will happen.
Source: Toyota, Stay In Step
Gallery: Toyota HSR Robot Helps Wounded Combat Veteran
Retired Army Ranger and Robot Sidekick Conduct Special Ops for Toyota
- First North American In-Home Trial of Robot to Aid Paralyzed Veteran
- Ongoing Robotics Research Designed to Help People with Limited Mobility
- Toyota Showcases Robot at NASCAR Race Honoring Veterans
Thanks to Camargo, Toyota recently completed the first North American in-home trial of the Human Support Robot (HSR). The HSR is one of the “partner robots” Toyota is developing to assist people with everyday activities. Toyota is actively researching ways to apply advanced technologies to help people with limited mobility, including seniors or those who are disabled.
During the trial, the robot assisted Camargo with everyday tasks in his home, including opening doors and delivering bottles of water or snacks from the pantry. The ultimate goal was to help him regain some of his independence and improve his quality of life. You can view a video of Toyota’s work with Camargo at http://bit.ly/2tTZE1m.
“At Toyota, we have a commitment to enriching lives by advancing mobility for all – whether it’s around town or across your living room,” said Doug Moore, senior manager, Technology for Human Support, Toyota Motor North America. “This includes developing technology solutions to assist people with limited mobility. We see our research with Romy and the HSR as a natural extension of our work as a mobility company that helps people navigate their world.”
Recalling his first reaction to the HSR, Camargo said, “When they opened the box, and I saw the robot, I figured we would unfold the next chapter in human support robots helping people with disabilities – like this research is going to change the world.”
Toyota will showcase the HSR today at the NASCAR Coke 400 pre-race in Daytona, Florida, which will honor U.S. veterans. Details about Toyota’s Human Support Robot can be found at http://www.toyota-global.com/innovation/partner_robot/family_2.html.
Other Toyota research aimed at applying robotics to assist people with limited mobility include:
- Welwalk WW-1000: A wearable robotic leg brace designed to help partially paralyzed people walk;
- Project BLAID: A future mobility technology that could help people who are blind or have visual impairments gain better environmental awareness;
- Transfer Assist Robot: A robot that helps transfer adult patients easily from bed to chair and chair to toilet, without overburdening the caregiver;
- Auto Access Seat: A device designed to help people who have difficulty entering and exiting special vehicles, such as seniors or others with limited mobility, do so more easily.
Toyota’s work with Camargo reflects its longstanding commitment to support our nation’s veterans. The company first began working with Camargo in 2015 when it provided last-mile funding to help him and his wife Gaby open Stay in Step, a non-profit recovery center that provides treatment, rehabilitation and support services to veterans and civilians with spinal-cord injuries. Toyota also works with Hiring Our Heroes to help veterans, transition service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. To date, Toyota’s partnership with Hiring Our Heroes has led to more than 28,000 direct hires.