Honda, known for their cars, bikes and power equipment also spends a significant amount of time and capital in the robot industry, and not just the robots that make the aforementioned equipment: Honda Robotics now makes a fully autonomous human-like robot. The latter clause is significant for two reasons: Honda Robotics is split from the others in the same way that power equipment is split from cars. The word ‘autonomous’ is key because Honda’s previous ASIMO robot is more sophisticated remote-control toy than the new ASIMO, which does not need humans to baby sit its every behavior.
Honda Robotics has a couple of other projects which in conjunction with mass production items will “be put to practical use.”
The new ASIMO is able to walk around and balance itself so that it doesn’t fall over: it’s a Segway that can make you a cup of coffee. It can also run 3 kph faster, which means a garden tractor-like speed of 5.6 mph.
Among the other projects are a robotic arm to perform tasks in places inaccessible to humans, but in a manner similar to humans. The emulation is good, Honda says that ASIMO for example can grab a glass bottle and twist off the cap without breaking anything and that ASIMO can pick up a soft paper cup and fill it with water from a pitcher without crushing the cup.
The robot arm project, separate from the ASIMO is being studied to help individuals who have troubles using their legs to support their body weight; an alternative in some situations to a cane or a walker. All of this sounds promising as long as they don’t build cars that drive themselves.
-By: Sawyer Sutton