Honda’s Asimo robot has never been a slouch when it comes to pace and agility, with a previous version of the car company’s mechanical mate notching up a fairly respectable top speed of 3 km/h. The newest model however would never be out of the drug testing lab were it an athlete, as it can now rattle along at a very impressive 6 km/h. Leaving its technologically inferior cousin for dust.
Yet don’t for a minute think that these new sporting capabilities mean the little chap doesn’t have a softer side. No, from consummate athlete to caring assistant, the machine’s transition is effortless. As by attempting to make the robot into a receptionist of sorts — or even a helping hand in the office — Honda has bestowed Asimo with several new skills. Give the little fella a tray for example (albeit a specially designed one), and he can carry drinks and successfully place them on a table without spilling a drop.
Plus, if you’ve got a party going on with lots of thirsty revelers to serve, the 130cm robot can even push a cart about — although the aforementioned non-spillage probably couldn’t be guaranteed. Such a contraption even giving Asimo the potential to wheel those a bit worse for wear to the lavatory. Providing of course they have strong enough bladders to endure the leisurely paced trip.
Honda claims that the next phase of evolution will be to drastically enhance Asimo’s artificial intelligence. Greatly improving the robot’s ability to make decisions depending on the circumstances and environment.
Not that such future upgrades take anything away from the current model. And for ardent Asimo fans, the bubble-headed bot is available for lease. But with a price tag of 20 million yen a year (95,000 pound), it’s not for the faint hearted.
To watch Asimo strut his stuff in an array of short videos, click on the movement you want to see. There’s running, pushing, carrying and even exercising. Plus the rather touching walking hand in hand. Although how long it’ll be before the robots are doing the leading remains to be seen.