Robotic Tightrope Walkers for High-Voltage Lines

Inspection bots in Canada and Japan roll out to make power lines safe

4 min read

This story was corrected on 16 November.

12 November 2009—High-voltage power-line inspection has always been a dangerous job for humans, so a handful of companies are sending in the robots. One such company, the Tokyo-based HiBot, is working with western Japan's Kansai Electric Power Co. to field a new robot next year that can inspect several power cables at once, a first for such daredevil bots.

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How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page
Blue

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

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