Toyota Helps U.S. Army Veteran with Human Support Robot

Toyota Helps U.S. Army Veteran with Human Support Robot

Summary: Romy Camargo was shot in the back of the neck while fighting in Afghanistan in 2008. Instead of asking “why me”, he and his wife, Gaby, opened the nonprofit Stay In Step Spinal Cord Injury Recovery Center, a recovery center that provides treatment, rehabilitation and support services to veterans and civilians with spinal-cord injuries. Camargo continues to serve his country, just not in the way he originally planned. He and his family took an unimaginable tragedy and said: how can we help others? Toyota teamed with Camargo to test out their new support robot technology. Continue reading for the full story.

On September 16, 2008, while fighting in Afghanistan, Chief Warrant Officer-3 Romulo Camargo (Romy) and his 7th Special Forces Group were ambushed by Taliban forces spraying bullets and rocket grenades at the American soldiers. Camargo was shot in the back of the neck, causing paralysis from the neck down. The next years would be a challenge for Romy and his loved ones, but a fight the Camargo family was willing to take on. 

Romy and Toyota completed their first in-home trial of Toyota’s Human Support Robot, or HSR at the Camargo family home in Daytona, Florida. The HSR is the first of its kind for personal use. Toyota has committed to bettering the lives of individuals on and off the road with such advancements like “partner robots” which aim to assist people with everyday activities. These significant advancements in applied advanced technologies will help people with limited mobility, including seniors and those who are disabled. 

**Continue reading for exclusive pictures and more!

Throughout the trial, Romy was able to do grabs snacks, get a glass of water, and open doors with the help of the HSR. The goal was for the robot to increase Romy’s quality of life by finding more independence throughout his day. Upon seeing the HSR for the first time, Camargo said, “When they opened the box, and I saw the robot, I figured we would unfold the next chapter in human support robots helping people with disabilities – like this research is going to change the world.”

“At Toyota, we have a commitment to enriching lives by advancing mobility for all – whether it’s around town or across your living room,” said Doug Moore, senior manager, Technology for Human Support, Toyota Motor North America. “This includes developing technology solutions to assist people with limited mobility. We see our research with Romy and the HSR as a natural extension of our work as a mobility company that helps people navigate their world.”

Toyota’s work with Camargo reflects its longstanding commitment to support our nation’s veterans. The company first began working with Camargo in 2015 when it provided last-mile funding to help him and his wife Gaby open Stay in Step, a non-profit recovery center that provides treatment, rehabilitation and support services to veterans and civilians with spinal-cord injuries. Toyota also works with Hiring Our Heroes to help veterans, transition service members and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. To date, Toyota’s partnership with Hiring Our Heroes has led to more than 28,000 direct hires.

Other Toyota research aimed at applying robotics to assist people with limited mobility include:  

  • Welwalk WW-1000: A wearable robotic leg brace designed to help partially paralyzed people walk;
  • Project BLAID: A future mobility technology that could help people who are blind or have visual impairments gain better environmental awareness;
  • Transfer Assist Robot: A robot that helps transfer adult patients easily from bed to chair and chair to toilet, without overburdening the caregiver;
  • Auto Access Seat: A device designed to help people who have difficulty entering and exiting special vehicles, such as seniors or others with limited mobility, do so more easily.

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