herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Meet the robot who can run, jump and have a kickabout

HONDA'S new humanoid robot took his first steps in Britain as he was shown to Londoners yesterday.

The all-new Asimo - a 1.3m-metre intelligent robot created with the aim of one day helping people with daily tasks in the home - also ran, jumped, hopped, danced and delivered drinks as he made his debut at the Wired conference.

He is "a little bit of a show-off", according to Vikki Hood, of Honda Motor Europe, who helped Asimo showcase his skills.

"He absolutely loves the audience response to what he can do."

Technology giant Honda has been working on Asimo for nearly 30 years.

The unveiling showed an updated version of Asimo, which first publicly appeared in 2000.

He now has added dexterity enabling him to hold a cup without crushing it, to shake hands and even do sign language.

Speed

He also has greater speed - the ability to run at about 6mph. It enables him to kick a ball, a trick he showed US President Barack Obama with whom he played football during a tour of Japan earlier this year.

Asimo climbed stairs, ran in a circle and switched from running, walking and hopping without stopping, which his predecessor could not do.

He now has an intelligent walking system helping him to walk in a line and swing his legs like a human, along with being able to lean his body to counterbalance, like a rider on a motorcycle, so that he can run around a corner.

Asimo has 34 motors to help him perform different types of human movement - such as tilting, balancing and navigating - including a sensor in his wrist which tells him to release a grip.

Asimo - which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility - is eventually intended to help people in various situations of need, such as the elderly, or those in disaster zones. He cannot yet be bought in shops.

Without giving any time targets for when he might actually be available for domestic use, Miss Hood admitted "we still have a long way to go before introducing Asimo into the home - we do not put a fixed time line on it".

Batteries

Getting batteries for him that last a lot longer "would help to make it more commercially viable", said Miss Hood.

At the moment Asimo has a battery life of between 20 and 30 minutes, if he is running at full speed. He can last longer if he is not doing too many taxing tasks.

hnews@herald.ie

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