Asimo grows up, ready to serve tea
The walking childlike robot from Honda motor company can now serve tea, push a mail cart and gallop along at twice its previous pace the latest in the Japanese automaker?s quest to replicate human movement.Updated: Dec 28, 2005 16:36 IST
The walking childlike robot from Honda motor company can now serve tea, push a mail cart and gallop along at twice its previous pace the latest in the Japanese automaker’s quest to replicate human movement. The 130-cm tall, bubble-headed robot named Asimo has already shown it can jog, walk up stairs, wave, avoid obstacles and carry on simple conversations.
But in a demonstration on Monday at Honda’s Tokyo head office, a new version of the robot showed off new skills its maker hopes will make the robot more handy around the office. The demonstration illustrated how Asimo might serve as a receptionist of the future. Equipped with a sensor that can read microchips in identification cards, the robot recognised a woman approaching from behind, and turned to greet her by name.
It then demonstrated further potential as a host by taking a tray of coffee cups from the woman with its own hands and carrying it to a nearby table where it set the tray down for imaginary guests. It also pushed a four-wheeled cart around on stage. Later, Asimo whose name is a play on the Japanese word for ‘leg’ or ‘ashi’ sprinted back and forth at 6 km an hour, double its previous speed of 3 km an hour.
The new technique demonstrates improved balancing technology because both the robot’s feet are airborne at the same time in mid-stride. Honda began dabbling with humanoid robots in 1987 and has now 40 Asimos worldwide. The company plans to start using Asimo’s new receptionist functions at Honda offices early next year.
The new robot is also available for lease. The current version can be leased for 20 million yen ($170,000). Company president Takeo Fukui said the technologies developed for Asimo can be applied to improve auto safety and navigation features. The next phase will focus on artificial intelligence, he said.
First Published: Dec 14, 2005 12:05 IST