Honda Motor Company has announced the development of a new small, lightweight humanoid robot named ASIMO that employs Honda’s new robotic walking technology to achieve an unprecedented human-like ability to walk.
‘Honda has taken up a new challenge in mobility,’ said Hiroyuki Yoshino, president and CEO of Honda Motor Company. ‘With this development of a two-legged humanoid robot that can walk, Honda hopes to create a partner for people, a new kind of robot with a positive function in society.’
Honda’s basic research and development in humanoid robotics began in 1986 with the goal of developing an autonomous walking robot that could be helpful to individuals as well as of practical use in society. In 1996, Honda’s prototype robot P2 made its debut, followed by the more advanced P3 in 1997.
ASIMO – which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility – is a further evolved version of the P3 in a people-friendly size that enables it to perform tasks within the realm of a human living environment.
Honda’s new robotic walking technology adds a sophisticated ‘predicted movement control’ feature to the walking control technology of earlier Honda robots.
As a result, ASIMO is said to walk more smoothly, more flexibly, and more naturally, with instant response to sudden movements. The range of movement of its arms has also been significantly increased, while a new portable controller enables easier operation.
At 120cm, ASIMO is significantly smaller than Honda’s earlier humanoid robots. The smaller size was chosen to allow it to operate freely in a human living space and to make it people-friendly.
Honda research determined the ideal robot height to be between 120cm and the height of an average adult, a size that allows the robot to perform basic tasks such as operating light switches and doorknobs.
ASIMO was also made much more compact and lightweight by redesigning its skeletal frame, reducing the frames wall thickness and specially designing the control unit.
A flexible walking control and button operation – for gestures and hand movements – can be carried out from either a workstation or portable controller.