Doesn't Asimo look scared? He crouches to balance as if he expects to fall any minute. Like a primate who is better use to all fours? Except when he runs! Wow is he cool when he runs!!!

ASIMO is not for sale, and is not ready to help people yet. Honda is working on the mobility part; other schools are working on making robots very smart. Putting mobility and artificial intelligence together, the promise of robots may come true.

After a brief history of robots, ranging from the science fiction machines of construction robots that put together our cars, ASIMO took to the stage much like a rock star. There was loud music, flashing lights and cheers from the crowd. His audience at the Washington Convention centre was made up of almost 800 students and their teachers from D.C. schools.

ASIMO stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility. It is 4 feet high and it can move a lot like we do, with 26 degrees of freedom. That means being able to move different "joints" in different directions. It also means forward and backward maintaining balance at all times, and turning without the standard pivoting of early robots. They had to walk in a straight line, stop, shuffling around in one spot to turn, then walk in a new straight line.

But ASIMO is a lot different. It can walk in figure eights, gesture - and even exudes a personality; perhaps more from the humanoid shape and smile. It even challenged three students to a balancing contest. While ASIMO stood on one foot with its "cameras" closed, the students tried the same thing, eventually flailing arms lost out to the robot's technology.

The Honda engineers who have been working on ASIMO have concentrated on making it move in our world so it could be useful to help the elderly or wheel chair bound. ASIMO could answer the door, pick up a phone or newspaper. ASIMO's tour is designed to get young people excited. "We want to inspire young people to study sciences such as math, chemical engineering, anatomy, all the sciences that it took to make ASIMO," says Jeffrey Smith, in charge of the ASIMO Project.

ASIMO even goes up and down stairs. One of its twin cameras gauges ASIMO's position as the steps are taken. The other camera is used to recognize people that can give it commands. Asimo is not the only mobile robot this little guy can ride a bike.

No comments: