Honda has revealed a new version of ASIMO, its humanoid robot, now able to climb stairs smoothly and communicate using sign language. Shown off in New York this week, ASIMO may look the same as before to the casual glance, but Honda has in fact reworked both the upper and lower body, including adding extra degrees of freedom to the hands so that they can be used for more precise tasks.
Honda's ASIMO robot has been given a new round of upgrades, slimming down and gaining the ability to autonomously monitor and interact with its environment, out of the control of a human operator. Advanced balancing - including quick reactions when ASIMO senses it's falling - together with an array of sensors that track physical objects and moving people, and predictive response algorithms that can independently decide on the next course of action all come together and shift the robot another step closer to integrating into a public environment.
Well, you all saw the recent fall of Honda's ASIMO robot and you thought it was over; not so. I came across an older video of ASIMO and this time he made it up the stairs but didn't quite make it downstairs in one piece. Honda's Humanoid Robot is currently an overprice piece of machinery and technology that continues to make the audiences laugh. ASIMO's job is to make us smile and ponder Honda's greatness but it fails again in the featured video. The Humanoid cost an estimated $1 million to manufacture in addition to thousands more for maintenance. Lets not forget the repair cost when ASIMO trips over thick-air, which doesn't exist.
ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, has an excellent track record versus the competition, but as technology progresses it seems to fall more and more. Honda boasts that ASIMO is a "glimpse into the future", which sorta makes sense when you consider people will eventually fall and slip on ice or something they didn't notice. We're just following in ASIMO's footsteps.
It's been a long while since we first saw Honda's exoskeleton-like Walking Assist Device - 2008, in fact - but the first 100 units are finally strolling into broader service in Japan. 100 of the 2.6kg gadgets, which strap onto the legs and hips so as to help the wearer walk more steadily and with a longer stride, have been deployed as part of a loan program across Japanese hospitals.
We've seen exoskeleton suits designed to grant their wearers super-human strength, but they tend to look somewhat obvious. Fine if you're an attention-seeking superhero, but less of a selling point if you're an elderly person with mobility problems. Honda have thankfully come to the rescue, though, with their 'Walking Assist Device'; worn as a straightforward belt with thigh straps, the 2.8kg unit promises to lengthen a user's natural stride by supplementing their own muscle power.
Consider this a SlashGear public service announcement if you will. Robots, no matter how adept they consider themselves, should always look where they're going when climbing stairs. Witness this embarrassing fall by Honda's lauded Asimo, which ironically happened while he was boasting about the in-feet sensors that allow him to balance.
Thankfully the Honda nurses were quick with the screens, as the crumpled humanoid lay twitching gently on the floor still chunnering about his ability to strut with the best of them. Perhaps it's time for Asimo to check into rehab? We can only assume that he's on so many drugs that he doesn't even realise he's fallen. Rumours that as the stricken robot was stretchered back to the workshop he was heard deliriously muttering "I'm still a star!" are so far unconfirmed.
A team of 20 robotics experts worked in Iran at Tehran University to develop a humanoid robot called Surena II. The robot weighs in at 45 kilos and stands 4.76 feet tall. The robot walks upright on two legs just like a person, but at a slower pace according to Gulf News.
What took humans millions of years to achieve, Germany's robotic ape has done in moments, with a research project into artificial spines showing how a quadrupedal 'bot can evolve into a bipedal one. Three months ago, DFKI's iStruct robo-ape was wandering around on all-fours as engineers experimented with human-inspired skeletal systems for potential space exploration. Now, it's able to stand up and move around on two legs.
He might star in TV ads, but we all know ASIMO is a closet alcoholic; the press releases blaming an "inner ear infection" for his notorious mid-performance falls aren't fooling anyone, Honda. And now he has competition, in the form of the sashaying Anybots Dextor, the world's first dynamically balanced robot.