The Dawn of the Robots: Meet ASIMO


For decades, we remained equally fascinated and scared of the Humanoids of science fiction; as we grew up watching them walk, talk, blow things up and take over the world in the absolute embodiment of artificial intelligence.

Now those Humanoid Robots have finally arrived. Not exactly the likes of Robocop or the Terminator—the current Humanoid generation is not expected to overthrow us humans anytime soon—but they are highly developed, dangerously adept, high-tech wonders nonetheless.

Meet ASIMO—The World’s Most Advanced Humanoid Robot

Introduced by Honda in the Year 2000, but only just recently updated, the all new version of ASIMO is the stuff of science fiction made reality.

While the previous versions were highly advanced—with the ability to walk independently, understand gestures and commands, climb up and down stairs, dance, and do absolutely amazing things—Honda has taken the new model one “scary” step further.

Thanks to a new autonomous behavior technology, ASIMO is now less “automated” than it is “autonomous”; meaning that it can think for itself and make decisions on its own, independent of human operators.

This new “intelligence” technology has not only improved ASIMO’s past capabilities, but also allowed him to co-ordinate those capabilities together and adapt to changing situations, without needing the constant supervision of us humans.

Using its external recognition capability and a set of onboard visual and auditory sensors as well as past experiences, ASIMO can rapidly and simultaneously process information and assess situations, planning his next move carefully.

For instance, ASIMO can now stop his current action and change his behavior to accommodate the intention of someone else, or even temporarily stop a certain action and resume it after performing a different task in between.

If multiple people are present in the room, ASIMO can track their conversation and recognize the faces and voices of everyone involved, even when several people speak simultaneously, which is something difficult even for us humans to do.

While he previously mastered walking, what is more impressive now is his ability to avoid a collision with someone else who is walking, by using information from his “preset space sensors” to predict where the person will be within the next few seconds.

His hands have also got “smarter” with tactile sensors on his fingers and a force center in his palm to give the hand delicate feedback that it is used to control the fingers independently. These sensors are combined with object recognition to pour the contents of a bottle into a cup, for instance, and not the other way around.

Also, with the increased dexterity and intelligence in his fingers, ASIMO can now communicate through sign language expressions (in addition to verbal communication which he mastered previously).

His legs got stronger and smarter too, with wider range of movement; so now he can kick a ball, hop on one or two legs continuously, change landing positions in the middle of a motion, and walk steadily on uneven surfaces.

Here is a video of ASIMO live in his show in Disney Land

For more videos, images and information, visit the ASIMO website.

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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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