KIYOSU, Japan—Toyoda Gosei has taken a 7.6 percent stake in the Tokyo-based start-up QBIT Robotics Corp., which focuses on robot systems development for the the service industry, specifically food and entertainment. Toyoda Gosei said the $1.1 million investment will help accelerate the development of tactile robot hands that make use of its e-Rubber properties.
The robotic hand in development has sensing capabilities that other robots lack, specifically the ability to sense the shape and softness of objects. Toyoda Gosei's e-rubber is designed to contract when voltage is applied, and in the case of the robotic hand, the material can be used as a light, soft artificial muscle.
Further, Toyoda Gosei said that its e-Rubber changes shape when external pressure is applied, and the amount of its internally stored electricity changes. This allows it to function as a high-accuracy sensor that can detect minute changes in pressure.
As part of the first collaboration between the two partners, the tactile hand featuring Toyoda Gosei's e-rubber technology will be used in robotic systems that are part of a robot-staffed cafe Huis Ten Bosch Inc.