HONDA unveiled its first ASIMO robot in the year 2000. ASIMO or Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility was designed to help people who lack mobility and has come a long way since then. The latest prototype of ASIMO, HONDA humanoid robot was displayed at the International Auto Show in New York and was seen walking, running quickly and even climbing stairs with ease. Additionally, it can dance, kicks the ball, even jump and can handle uneven surfaces too.
Standing 4 feet tall and measuring 115 pounds, ASIMO looks like an astronaut with a white suit and a helmet. The latest features added to the humanoid robot are the five dextrous fingers aided with force feedback sensors, on each hand. The robot during the auto show was seen opening juice bottle and carefully pouring juices in glasses. Though performing these tasks seems effortless for humans, but until now it was a challenge for designer to imitate the same in the robot. It requires a great deal of coordination between high tech sensors in the robot’s fingers and its camera eyes, for the robot to comprehend what is it holding and its weight.
Dexterousness is one of the main features, which the researchers were working upon since a decade. The same happens to be the USP of robots in manned cosmonautics so far.
Unlike the earlier ASIMO prototype which were large and bulky and was controlled by a remote, the recent ASIMO robot, show outstanding flexibility, balance and work autonomously with a battery that last for 40 minutes. The bot can run, attaining a maximum speed of 9 kilometers per hour (5.6 miles/hour) and apart from jumping it can hop on single foot without falling. Most importantly, the articulated fingers of the robot can be used to communicate using Japanese sign language. The bot has been programmed to understand few commonly used phrases and to politely shake hands with strangers.
The HONDA designers are trying to make the ASIMO friendlier, which can be seen when the robot is pouring a drink for person, it takes few second pause and look at the person, like humans do, then placing the drink before the person. It can comprehend voice commands, recognize human faces and interpret non verbal communication. To further hone these skills, designers plan to take ASIMO out of the controlled environment, to collect more data.
Makers of ASIMO believe that the bot will be helping elderly people or disabled individuals in everyday chores like fetching a snack or drink from the fridge, turning the switch of gadgets off or on or carrying their luggage. They are trying to understand what people with reduced mobility would require ASIMO to perform and accordingly improve the robot.
ASIMO looks very impressive and I would definitely like to have one, some day in my house.