You're looking at Honda's brand new ASIMOrobot, which was just unveiled today in Japan. While the new ASIMO's appearance is similar to the version of ASIMO that we've come to know and love, there are some key differences inside that promise to make this generation more autonomous and capable than ever.
Below we give you all the details, with a bunch of new pics to match. But first, here's a video of ASIMO showing off some of its new skills:
Here are the specs of the new ASIMO and a summary of its new capabilities:
1. Height: 130 centimeters (4 feet 3 inches)
2. Weight: 48 kilograms (106 pounds), decreased 6 kg from previous model
3. Degrees of freedom: 57 DOF total, increase of 23 DOF from previous model
4. Running speed: 9 km/h (5.6 mph), compared to 6 km/h for previous model
Enhanced physical capabilities: The new ASIMO is lighter, faster, and stronger than ever. It's dropped six kilograms in weight, and its run speed has been boosted to 9 kilometers per hour from 6 km/h. It's capable of running backwards, continuously jumping up and down, and even jumping on one foot (!).
High level balancing: ASIMO was capable of balancing itself, but the new version can survive a significantly more aggressive push by quickly taking a stabilizing step forward or backward, just like a human would. All this additional agility also enables ASIMO to walk over uneven surfaces without any trouble.
New hands: ASIMO's hands are dexterous enough (with independent finger control) to perform sign language (the hand gesture above doesn't mean ASIMO likes heavy metal -- it's Japanese sign language for "I love you"). By combining tactile and visual sensors, ASIMO can recognize objects and handle them appropriately, such as taking caps off of bottles and pouring liquid into paper cups without crushing them.
Sensor integration: The new ASIMO can integrate information from multiple sensors and estimate how its surrounding environment is changing. For example, it can combine both short and long range sensor data to better track and predict the motion of multiple humans, and it uses visual and auditory input to perform voice recognition in noisy and crowded environments.
Improved autonomy: ASIMO is now able to use sensor inputs, intelligent prediction, and past experience to autonomously determine what it should do without direct operator intervention. The goal here is to let ASIMO work alongside puny humans without needing continuous supervision, and ASIMO is able to walk around without bumping into anyone, politely stepping aside if it classifies you as a collision risk.
Oh, and most importantly, ASIMO is now available in designer colors. Yay!
Honda, which takes great pride in its humanoid, is clearly making a big push to get ASIMO to be autonomous (and useful) in environments that require a lot of human interaction, and that's what this new generation of ASIMO robots is all about.
Honda also announced that it has established Honda Robotics as a new collective name to "represent all of its robotics technologies and product applications," including its robotic exoskeletons, the U3-X personal mobility vehicle, and a new manipulator that could be used in dangerous environments like the Fukushima nuclear reactors.
We can't wait to see what kind of new tricks these bots are gonna be able to pull, but here's a little teaser from the Japan unveil:
Images and video: Honda
Evan Ackerman is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Since 2007, he has written over 6,000 articles on robotics and technology. He has a degree in Martian geology and is excellent at playing bagpipes.