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Honda Robotics Unveils Next-Generation ASIMO Robot

We heard some rumors that Honda was working on something big, and here it is: a brand new ASIMO

3 min read
Honda Robotics Unveils Next-Generation ASIMO Robot

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:

[ ASIMO ] via [ Honda ]

Images and video: Honda

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman

“I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.”

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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