The latest version of Asimo turned up in Belgium on Wednesday, giving European robot enthusiasts their first up-close look at Honda’s advanced life-like bot.
Watching Asimo walk and run with such effortless grace and ease, it’s hard not to imagine the Honda chairman himself inside, pulling all the moves. It’s certainly a far cry from its hopeless but hilarious attempt at climbing stairs back in 2007.
Apparently, though, Asimo’s for real, a marvel of Japanese engineering that’s been improving markedly with every iteration over its 14-year lifespan.
The 4.2-foot-tall humanoid was last taken into the engineers’ tool shed for a major makeover a couple of years ago when it was given a speed boost (to 5.6 mph from 3.7 mph) as well as a more graceful running style. The bot was also fitted with technology to recognize different voices speaking at the same time and respond to different instructions given by each person.
The further-refined, all-new Asimo can also cope better with rough terrain, while enhanced dexterity allows it to communicate via sign language and perform tasks such as taking the lid off a bottle and pouring a drink (without spilling it all over the place, thankfully).
“Previous generations of Asimo have demonstrated incredible fluidity and speed of movements,” Satoshi Shigemi, chief engineer of the Asimo project, said during a demonstration this week in Brussels, Belgium. “The all-new Asimo takes this mobility, task performing ability and interaction with people to the next level and moves Honda one step closer to its ultimate goal of developing a robot that can be a helper to people in need.”
In other words, Asimo, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, could one day find itself carrying out duties in places like homes for the elderly, or assisting the disabled with various tasks.
While it might seem like a cool idea to also have Asimo pottering around your home — answering the door to visitors, relaying alerts and notifications, and unblocking the toilet — such a reality could be many years away. For something close to that, you’re best off laying down $500 for Jibo.