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NTT DoCoMo, Toyota use 5G to control humanoid robot

The robot, developed by Toyota was developed to support human activities in homes and health centers

Japanese telco NTT DoCoMo and Toyota Motors said they have successfully controlled the Toyota-developed T-HR3 humanoid robot in trials using 5G technology.

Toyota developed the T-HR3 with the aim of creating a partner robot that can safely support human activities in a variety of circumstances, such as homes and healthcare institutions.

“By employing Torque Servo Modules that control power and a Master Maneuvering System that allows the robot’s entire body to be operated at will, the operator can feel external forces exerted on the T-HR3 and prompt it to move in the same manner as them,” NTT DoCoMo said.

The telco said that minimizing communication delays during control signal exchange between the T-HR3 and the Master Maneuvering System is essential. Until now, T-HR3 experiments have been conducted on a wired connection, with relatively few communication delays. This time, the T-HR3 was successfully controlled wirelessly, using low-latency 5G communication technology developed by DoCoMo.

DoCoMo and Toyota plan to demonstrate the technology between Tokyo Big Sight and Tokyo Skytree as part of the DoCoMo Open House 2018, which will take in December.

“DoCoMo and Toyota aim to continue conducting trials based on diverse scenarios of robot use, and intend to research and develop technologies and services with the aim of realizing 5G services in 2020 and, subsequently, a prosperous society of mobility,” the carrier said.

NTT DoCoMo plans to launch pre-commercial 5G services in September 2019, the carrier’s president and CEO, Kazuhiro Yoshizawa, said during a conference call with investors and analysts.

Yoshizawa also said that the company aims to launch commercial 5G services across Japan by mid-2020. He also said that customers will be able to experience 5G services during the Rugby World Cup next year.

NTT DoCoMo has been adding partners to its 5G Open partner program, through which it aims to create 5G-based solutions. The program currently has 1,800 partners and expects to end 2021 with 5,000 partners, the executive said.

Earlier this year, Finnish vendor Nokia secured a contract with NTT DoCoMo to provide next-generation equipment for the operator’s future commercial launch. Under the deal, Nokia will support NTT DoCoMo’s commercial operation in Japan by further enhancing existing baseband units and integrating its 5G New Radio-based AirScale hardware in the network

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