Toyoda Gosei invests in robotics service provider

Japanese maker of rubber and plastics automotive parts Toyoda Gosei Co. has invested1 in QBIT Robotics Corporation (Tokyo, Japan), a provider of robotics services, to accelerate development of a practical robot hand with tactile sense using e-Rubber sensors. The investment amount is 120 million yen, which will give Toyoda Gosei a stake of 7.6% in QBIT Robotics.

QBIT Robotics is a start-up that develops systems centered on collaborative robots that work together with humans for use in the service industry, including food service and entertainment, and provides robotics services that can help to solve social issues such as labour shortages.

Toyoda Gosei is developing a tactile hand that can sense the shape and softness of objects, a capability that conventional robots have lacked. By combining this tactile hand with the robot systems of QBIT Robotics, the two companies will achieve robots that can perform work in a more human-like way.

Toyoda Gosei and QBIT Robotics will accelerate their collaboration with the aim of spreading the use of practical robots that can support aging societies with fewer children. As the first result of that collaboration, Toyoda Gosei’s tactile hand will be used in QBIT’s &robot café system. This is a robot café developed by the collaboration of QBIT Robotics and coffee company UCC group.

e-Rubber is a next-generation rubber that contracts with the application of voltage. It can be used as a light, soft artificial muscle for robots. In addition, when its shape changes from external pressure or other forces, the amount of internally stored electricity changes. With this property, it can also function as a soft tactile sensor that can sense minute changes in pressure with high accuracy.

QBIT has developed a robot for Huis Ten Bosch Inc. that has opened the “Henn na Cafe, Huis Ten Bosch,” where robots wait on customers and serve drinks. QBIT Robotics developed and designed that robot system and continues to provide related support.