I, for one, welcome our new robot masters.

Honda Shows Off Upgraded Walking Robot

[...] The four-foot-tall machine, shown to reporters Wednesday, already knew how to walk, climb stairs and recognize voices. An upgraded version now also understands human gestures and movement. The upgraded robot turns its bubble-shaped head to follow the moves of nearby people, giving it a communicative, ready-to-help appearance.

Asimo uses the visual information taken by a camera in its head to recognize 10 different preprogrammed faces and will call out that person's name. "It won't follow strangers," says Honda chief engineer Yoshiaki Sakagami.

[...] In a demonstration at Honda headquarters in Tokyo, the new robot understood where a person is pointing and moved in that direction. "I will go where you instruct," it said in a childish electronic voice.

If a person circles an arm above the head, the robot understands it is being summoned. Wave, and it waves back.

Asimo -- a name based on the Japanese word for "legs" -- can stop or walk backward to avoid an approaching person. And it connects to a wireless computer server to recite information about cars.

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11 Responses:

  1. bdu says:

    strange, I had assumed the Asimo name to be a reference to Asimov.

    • waider says:

      Brief inspection of an E/J dictionary gives one word that might fit the bill: あしまかせ (ashimakase). It translates to "walking wherever one's legs lead one; wandering".

  2. wasteddream says:

    I've seen footage of that robot before on some PBS special. It might have been Nova. Whatever it was, i'd love to find a copy of it. Watching it navigate obstacles and stairs was really interesting. i think it utilizes some sort of internal gyro.

    As impressive as it is, though, it would be improved by making it 9 feet tall. Or possibly covering it in living tissue and giving it the ability to travel back in time.

    • naturalborn says:

      That big thing on its back is obviously a gyroscopic stabilizer (i.e. contains a big spinning disk, probably two going in opposite directions). Current technology is nowhere near able to make a biped of those proportions without one. It probably has trouble turning as a result.

      • wordbooty says:

        I know you posted this a long time ago, but I recently came across it through google. I work for Honda, and am actually one of the six operators of Asimo here in the USA. Asimo's backpack contains all of it's computers. There is a gyroscope in it's midsection, below the battery that helps keep Asimo balanced and standing upright.

  3. There's something inherent about the smallness and shape of it that makes me feel protective toward it. Like a child, or a small animal. I think it would freak me out badly to see it get damaged nearly in the same way (possibly more) than it would freak me out to see a similarly-sized person get damaged.

    I don't know what that says about me.


    • nerpdawg says:

      Instead of feeling protective towards it, I expect any 4 foot tall childlike robot to have horribly violent and disfiguring lasers that it shoots happy innocent folk with while saying nice things about hondas.

      Am i the only one?

      • jwz says:

        Yeah, I gotta say, I look at that thing and think, ``it's very cute, and it's about to turn evil.'' Like it's going to sprout big shiny, chompy teeth, and then cutely, perkily, politely disembowel everyone in its path. Like when the cute wind-up dolls went after Barbarella.

  4. baconmonkey says:

    I'm too lazy to go way back to the appropriate post, but look what I found when searching for Mongolian BBQ

  5. compwiz says:

    Ah, I have faith again in big car companies. They make a robot that has the possibility to be so many things for handicapped people, and what does it do? Sell cars. Go figure.