The latest incarnation of Honda’s Asimo robot has been unveiled, with a better design, and new hand sensors for delicate tasks. Many of the new features have been designed to allow better coordination with the environment, using what Honda claim is the “world’s first autonomous behaviour control technology”.
The new autonomous behaviour control technology allows Asimo to move independently, although obviously this comes with limitations. There are also a number of improvements to the robot’s intelligence and physical features, with new and improved sensors allowing it to respond more readily to the surrounding environment.
“The design of [Asimo] is meant to make interacting with it easier,” said Ken Goldberg, a professor at University of California, in an interview with TechNewsWorld. “The biggest improvement to Asimo is in the hands, Asimo’s old hands were very crude, whereas the new hands … allow Asimo to [perform] tasks which require more dexterity.” said Goldberg.
The combination of new visual and auditory sensors will allow Asimo to recognise faces and voices, even when a number of people are speaking at the same time. The designers say the robot will even be able to predict the movement of people based on spatial information and past behaviour, which combined with the physical improvements, will allow Asimo to respond in a more realistic way.
Asimo’s legs have also been greatly improved, allowing the robot to walk, jump, run forward, and even hop. The hands are the biggest improvement however, with Asimo now able to perform subtle tasks through a tactile and force sensor in each finger. With these improvements, Asimo has become the clear leader in the consumer robot race, although Fujitsu’s EMIEW2 robot, Toyota’s humanoid robots, and Sony’s QRIO walking robot are not far behind.