Cars are good, but helping people is so much better.
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