Toyota Invests $14 Million in Aging-In-Place Robot

The company behind a new robot for seniors aging in place has attracted a well-known backer: Toyota.

Specifically, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) has invested $14 million in Intuition Robotics, an Israel-based firm that develops social companion technology for older adults. Intuition, which recently opened an office in San Francisco, is the maker of ElliQ, an “active aging companion” for seniors in their own homes, according to TechCrunch.

ElliQ is an interactive, emotive robot that’s connected to a tablet. The product, which enables seniors to use a wide variety of technologies like online games, video chat and social media, is currently being tested by several users in the San Francisco area.

Additionally, the robot is meant to inspire older adults’ participation in a variety of activities by recommending and connecting them to audiobooks and TED talks, suggesting that they go for a walk after long periods of sitting still, and reminding them to take their medications and keep their appointments.

TRI is a Los Altos, California-based research and development enterprise with an initial focus on robotics and artificial intelligence. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota Motor North America.

TRI reached out to Intuition Robotics after hearing about ElliQ, and the enterprise has already helped replace several of the motors in the ElliQ prototype, Intuition Robotics CEO Dor Skuler told TechCrunch.

Beyond the $14 million provided by TRI, Intuition has also received about $6 million from investors like Bloomberg Beta, Terra Venture Partners, Maniv Mobility and iRobot, the maker of Roomba.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson