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Toyota Partners with AI Start-Up to Develop Service Robots

Zacks Equity Research

Per reports, Toyota Motor Corporation TM has enlisted a Japanese artificial intelligence start-up to design and develop service robots for help at home.

Toyota and Preferred Networks announced their partnership on Aug 7, 2019. The companies plan to accelerate the development of service robots by sharing their respective intellectual property. The project will use Toyota’s Human Support Robot (HSR) robotics platform.  The platform is a basic robot designed to work alongside people in everyday settings. The company has been working on service robots for 15 years and has numerous projects in process. However, HSR is the closest to being available for commercial purpose.

The combined goal of the two companies is to introduce intelligent robots that can integrate into an individual’s life and function autonomously around their home. Its primary use consists of basic care and support assistance in nursing and long-term applications. On being equipped with a single arm, sensor-filled head and a wheeled base, the service robot is expected to collect and retrieve items as well as provide remote control and communication capabilities.

Preferred Networks has gained experience with Toyota’s HSR in the past. The company used the robot as a platform for its advanced AI software at an exhibition in Tokyo last year, where the robot tidied a messy room as well as distinguished between trash and dirty towels.

Toyota will be providing several HSR units to Preferred Networks to initiate the project. The project is targeted toward the aging population in Japan, with a quarter being aged more than 65.

Nevertheless, the integration of robots at home is not a new concept. Companies have been developing robotic devices, some with personalities, to provide assistance to elderly citizens at home. Not limited to Japan, such robots will be beneficial in any situation where an elderly or disabled person requires assistance, but can't rely on entirely on partner, family or the state.

In the past six months, Toyota has outperformed the industry it belongs to. During the same time frame, the company’s shares have increased 7.8% against the industry’s fall of 1.1%.

Currently, Toyota has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the auto space are Fox Factory Holding Corp FOXF, CarMax, Inc KMX and Gentex Corporation GNTX, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) Rank stocks here.

Fox Factory has an expected long-term growth rate of 16.7%. In the past six months, shares of the company have rallied 22.9%.

CarMax has an expected long-term growth rate of 12.6%. In the past six months, shares of the company have moved up 36.9%.

Gentex has an expected long-term growth rate of 5%. In the six months, shares of the company have returned 36.8%.

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