Honda’s bipedal automaton takes another step forward

A Terminator-style automaton has come a step closer with the demonstration of Honda’s P3 bipedal robot in Japan. The prototype greeted a crowd of spectators and went on a demonstration walk in front of at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo. Honda describes the robot as the highest-performing bipedal robot in the world. The development team […]

A Terminator-style automaton has come a step closer with the demonstration of Honda’s P3 bipedal robot in Japan.

The prototype greeted a crowd of spectators and went on a demonstration walk in front of at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo. Honda describes the robot as the highest-performing bipedal robot in the world.

The development team set out to develop a robot for home use, rather than one purpose-built for specific operations. The humanoid robot can walk forwards, backwards and sideways, ascend and descend stairs and also traverse sloping levels, keep its balance if pushed and stand on one leg. Its walking speed is about 2km/h.

Honda plans to use P3 to promote sales of its products. The robot’s artificial intelligence is not yet sufficient for preparing a stir-fry or making green tea. It still needs intensive development in this area and at present can only perform simple tasks with its hands, such as picking up and carrying objects.

P3’s proportions and the positions of its joints were adapted from the human body. The robot is 1.6m tall, but weighs in at a hefty 130kg – 20 stone.

Its `skeleton’ is made of magnesium, and its movements are powered by servo motors. But because of its excessive weight the robot can only work for 25 minutes on one battery charge.

Honda started work on the project in 1986. The company’s original concept was for a robot `that could coexist and cooperate with human beings’, by doing what a person cannot do, and `that would cultivate a new dimension in mobility which would result in added value to society’.

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