Honda debuts latest Asimo robot

Honda announced the latest Asimo humanoid robot at its plant in Tokyo Tuesday. Almost a year to the day that the previous Asimo was shown off, the latest generation is a faster and more capable robot than its predecessor, Honda says.

According to its press release, Honda has "been pursuing research and development of a truly useful humanoid robot which possesses both intelligence and physical capabilities at a high level".

It's twice as fast as the last Asimo in terms of running speed -- 6 kph as opposed to 3 kph. The walking speed is 0.2 kph faster at 2.7 kph and the Asimo can also run in a circular pattern at 5 kph -- achieved by tilting the Asimo's center of gravity -- though why this would be in any way useful Honda does not say.

What definitely could be useful, though, is that Asimo is now capable of working as a receptionist or tour guide. It can also carry objects using a cart, or carry a tray of drinks by coordinating the use of its eye camera and a kinesthetic sensor in its wrist.

Asimo can recognize its surrounding environment with visual, ultrasonic and floor surface sensors as well as with the aid of a proprietary IC (integrated circuit) Tele-interaction Communication Card. This is a card that allows Asimo to recognize the location and identity of its handler no matter where they stand in a 360-degree range.

Weighing 54 kilograms and standing 130 centimeters the Asimo will begin operating in spring 2006 at Honda's Wako building. After that, there are plans to lease it out.

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