The Earth’s population is rapidly aging, with people aged 65 and over constituting the world’s fastest-growing age group. This is going to create problems for lots of countries as they struggle to find resources to look after seniors. And it’s why Toyota’s robotics division is focused on developing mechanical helpers for the home, keeping older generations healthy and happy as they age.
This week Toyota offered a closer look at some of the prototypes it’s testing in mock-up home environments built in its labs in California. These include a “gantry robot” that hangs from the ceiling and is able to complete tasks like cleaning and loading the dishwasher.
Toyota says the robot’s design was inspired by trips to Japanese homes, where researchers found that limited floor space would constrain a robot’s ability to help. Their solution was to imagine a future home built with robots directly integrated into the architecture. Building new robot-assisted homes from scratch would create its own problems of course, but the design itself does solve some issues.
“What if instead of needing a robot to navigate the cluttered floor, it could travel on the ceiling instead, and be tucked out of the way when it’s not needed?” said Dan Helmick, co-lead of robotics fleet learning at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), during a virtual presentation. The TRI was first established in 2015 with a $1 billion investment.
In addition to the gantry robot, TRI also demoed a “soft bubble gripper” that uses air-filled cushions to gently grab a variety of objects, and a floor-based mobile robot with the same basic capabilities as its bat-like companion. The institute’s researchers also showed how they’re using
That audience helped propel the introduction of Cars & Bids.
With the sudden flood of submissions, Mr. DeMuro quickly got to work on his backyard patio with his co-founder, Blake Machado, and the four other members of the team, dealing with the onslaught while trying to socially distance.
On one of the top car auction sites, eBay Motors, the sellers submit pictures and write up a description. Cars & Bids wanted all its listings to have the same information. This required editorial oversight. Sellers must fill out a detailed questionnaire and submit upward of 100 photos. It’s a timely process.
“To me it felt exhaustive, but they held my hand through it the whole time,” said Nick Szabo, 33, a marketing product manager in St. Louis who recently listed his Porsche 944 Turbo on the site.
Even with the team working frantically, as soon as it would decide on a reserve price for one car, five other submissions would arrive.
Mr. DeMuro has built this audience with a personal touch. He comes off like a buddy telling you about a cool car. He rarely advertises products, and avoids gimmicks. For a half-hour at a time, he’s digging deep on all of a car’s quirks and features.
“I chose Cars & Bids because I follow Doug DeMuro’s channel,” said Andrew Johnson, who works at Authentic Motorcars in Redmond, Wash., and had been in talks with Mr. DeMuro to bring him some cars to review. Mr. Johnson, 31, sold his 2002 lifted BMW X5 for $12,700 on the site.
Bring a Trailer is Cars & Bids’ closest competition. Both sites mix online auctioning with a Facebook comments section. Sellers, potential buyers and onlookers will often have vibrant discussions for each car, which adds to the fun of seeing bids scuttle upward.