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Old 01-10-2006, 02:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Honda ASIMO Robot Now Does Chores

By Ed Oswald, BetaNews

December 13, 2005, 4:27 PM

Honda on Tuesday debuted the second-generation model of its humanoid robot ASIMO, adding new features that for the first time could make the robot useful in real life situations.

Previously, the company rolled out ASIMO to entertain on stage at its press events, and it had been used as a symbol of the Japanese spirit of ingenuity. However, now Honda says the robot is ready for real world tasks.

The newest model can act "in sync" with humans, such as walking with a companion. ASIMO is also able to push a cart, or perform receptionist, information guide and delivery service tasks through the development of a remote control system.

Using integrated circuit (IC) tags, ASIMO can even recognize people, Honda says.

"Honda is aiming to create a humanoid robot that can help people and live together with people," Satoshi Shigemi, the head of ASIMO development for Honda told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.

The company said the next phase of development in the program would shift to artificial intelligence, which would allow ASIMO to make decisions based on certain situations.

ASIMO's new receptionist and information guide capabilities were made possible through advancements in how the robot detects its surroundings using various sensors that provide visual analysis, detection of the floor surface and sounds.

The IC tags will also relay instructions on how to deal with certain people as they approach the robot. This will help ASIMO locate a person in a crowd of people, Honda added.

Visual sensors in coordination with the force sensors on its wrists now allow ASIMO to carry trays to serve drinks, and hold the hand of a human and move in sync with them.

Honda has also improved the movement functions of ASIMO, which can now walk at a speed of 6 km/hr or 3.73 mph, equivalent to a fast paced human walk.

Production of the new ASIMO will begin in spring of 2006. Also, for the first time, the robot would be made available for leasing from Honda.
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