We first met RIBA (or, RIBA-I as we should start calling it) back in 2009, although the assistive robot has been around since 2004. Developed in a partnership between RIKEN (a natural sciences research institute in Japan) and Tokai Rubber Industries, RIBA's job is to lift people when asked nicely. Seems trivial, yes, but if you don't have a robot bear around to help you out, you either need to use an awkward and uncomfortable piece of machinery or have a person do it, and if you haven't noticed, we humans are hefty and getting heftier. This is especially problematic for healthcare workers who have to lift patients frequently, and often get injured doing so.
RIBA is snuggly soft to make lifting comfortable and fun, and the pronounced bearishness is there to help patients relax. This new and improved robot (RIBA-II) features springs to help it lift more weight, and it responds to both touch and voice commands:
So let's just run the numbers real quick on RIBA's increasing buffness: in 2006 RIBA could lift 40 pounds, in 2009 RIBA could lift 135 pounds, and RIBA II is now up to 175 pounds. Let's see, that would mean that RIBA will be cracking the 1,000 pound mark by around 2040, which might just be enough to keep up with the pace with which we humans are packing on weight. But it's gonna be close.