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Honda Unveils Upgraded ASIMO Humanoid Robot

Jason Udywriter

Honda has unveiled the latest version of its Advanced Step in Innovative MObility robot -- or as it's commonly refered to, ASIMO. The latest robot looks much like its predecessor (much like the new 2012 Civic), but gains the company's latest and greatest humanoid technologies.

According to Honda the all-new ASIMO has taken a step forward from being an operator-controlled "automatic machine" to an "autonomous machine" with the ability to make decisions based on its surroundings, including the movements of people. For the latest model Honda engineers addressed three key factors to make ASIMO autonomous. Honda's criteria for the next ASIMO included a high level of balancing ability, the capability of recognizing movements of people in the surrounding area, and the ability to make predictions based on gathered information and determine the next movement without the aid of an operator.

The latest ASIMO uses multiple sensors to scan its environment and respond accordingly. If a collision with a person of stationary object is predicted, ASIMO can recalculate its path to avoid a collision. ASIMO is able to recognize faces and voices, much like the latest digital cameras and in-car infotainment systems.

But the new ASIMO is more than just a brainier version of the existing bot. Engineers made some mechanical revisions designed to improve the robot's strength and flexibility. For instance, the latest ASIMO sports a new leg design that boasts an increased range of motion. It also allows for ASIMO to change course mid-step, allowing it to gain a better foothold on uneven terrain, or avoid a collision.

The engineering team created "a highly functional compact multi-fingered hand." The new hand has tactile and force sensors in each finger and in the palm that give ASIMO increased dexterity -- in fact, the 'bot can pick up a glass bottle and unscrew the cap, or hold a paper cup without crushing it. The new ASIMO can also make complex sign language expressions.

Source: Honda