Corporate / Technology
Latest Version of ASIMO Makes North American Debut in New York
Honda today showcased the newest version of ASIMO, the world's most advanced humanoid robot, for the first time in North America, featuring the latest innovations, including the ability to communicate in sign language and to climb stairs without stopping.
ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, was first introduced 14 years ago. Since then, Honda engineers have continued making significant advances including physical improvements such as running and hopping on one leg, improvements to ASIMO's dexterity, as well as other advancements that have furthered the company's dream of creating a humanoid robot that can provide assistance for society.
"This is an exciting project for Honda," said Satoshi Shigemi, senior chief engineer of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. and the leader of Honda's humanoid robotics program. "Our engineers are working tirelessly to develop new technologies aimed at helping ASIMO work in a real world environment."
The new version of ASIMO has undergone numerous changes to its 4'3", 110-pound body. Developments in the lower body have enhanced stability and balance control, allowing the robot to climb more smoothly, run faster and change directions in a more-controlled fashion.
Enhancements in the upper body include major increases in the degrees of freedom available in the robot's hands. Each hand now contains 13 degrees of freedom, which allows ASIMO to perform many more intricate and precise tasks.
The increased hand dexterity provides additional movement in each finger, which also led to the development of ASIMO's new ability to communicate using both American and Japanese sign language.
Force sensors in the robot's hands also provide instantaneous feedback allowing ASIMO to use the appropriate amount of force when performing a task. This allows the robot to pick up paper cups without crushing them, but still allows ASIMO to use a stronger force when necessary.
"It was obvious that overall flexibility was necessary, and many more complex tasks can now be performed because of the improved operational capacity in the hands," Shigemi continued. "But perhaps more importantly, these innovations enhance ASIMO's communication skills, which is essential to interact with human beings."
The advanced technologies derived from research on ASIMO have also benefited other Honda business lines. For example, the VSA system used in the Honda Civic and technologies used in the championship-winning Honda Moto GP motorcycles had their genesis in Honda's robotics research program.
Later this summer, the new ASIMO will follow in the footsteps of its predecessor to become a daily performer at the Honda ASIMO Theatre at Innoventions in Disneyland Resort's Tomorrowland.
Honda established operations in America in 1959, and now employs more than 39,000 associates in its U.S. sales, R&D and manufacturing operations with a capital investment of more than $12.5 billion.
Based on its longstanding commitment to "build products close to the customer" Honda operates 14 major manufacturing facilities in North America, producing a wide range of Honda and Acura automobiles, automobile engines and transmissions, Honda all-terrain vehicles, and power equipment products such as lawn mowers, mini-tillers and general purpose engines, using domestic and globally sourced parts.
Eight Honda auto plants in the region, including four in the U.S., have the capacity to produce 1.92 million automobiles each year. In 2013, 94 percent of the Honda and Acura automobiles sold in the U.S. were produced in North America.
Honda operates major research and development centers in the U.S. that fully design, develop and engineer many of the products Honda produces in North America.
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