ASIMO, the quaintly-named humanoid robot made by Honda’s research and development engineers, is to return to South Africa at the
to be held at the Expo Centre, Nasrec, in October. Here it will again demonstrate the fact that Honda is a world leader in advanced robotics.
Honda has always been a company driven by engineering excellence and technological developments in terms of the cars, motorcycles and power products it designs and manufactures, so the company sees its advances in the field of humanoid robotics as a further example of its free-thinking spirit.
An earlier generation of the amazing ASIMO robot that can now run, walk, transport goods on a trolley and shake hands among other attributes was demonstrated in SA for the first time at Auto Africa in 2006. (This event was the forerunner of the Johannesburg International Motor Show which was staged for the first time in 2008).
The name ASIMO is actually an acronym of the words Advanced Step in Innovation MObility and the humanoid robot coming to Expo Centre in October represents the current state of a programme that was started by Honda in 1986.
Honda sees the development of this two-legged humanoid robot that can walk and perform several other actions as following in the steps of its advanced Honda motorcycles, cars and power products. The company wants to create a partner that can help and live in harmony with people. The ASIMO that will be at the local motor show is the 12th in this series of ever more sophisticated robots.
New ASIMO took its first steps in Europe in 2007 and is now coming to Africa.
It is 130cm tall and weighs 54kg, which makes it the perfect size for helping around the house or assisting a person confined to a bed or wheelchair. Its height means it can look directly at an adult sitting in a chair or sitting up in bed.
The latest version can run and walk faster – running speed is up to 6km/h from 3km/h and walking pace is up to 2,7km/h – while it has a greater range of movement than before, enabling it to do more twisting, bending and pushing. Posture Control Technology allows ASIMO to maintain balance and prevent foot slippage while running.
It can also push a trolley on a set course while maintaining balance as well as being able to move continuously towards a destination without stopping to check its position.
ASIMO can recognise people in its vicinity, using its camera “eyes” to recognise stationary obstacles which it stores in its memory and avoids when walking in the vicinity of the obstacles. It can also recognise moving pedestrians in its walking path and stop momentarily until these people are out of the robot’s path.
The robot’s “intelligence” goes further in that it can understand a number of voice commands and give an appropriate response, while using a unique IC communication card will result in ASIMO recognising and greeting the person
New technology even permits it to carry a tray and put it on a table, while it can transport heavy loads – up to 10kg in weight – by pushing a trolley.
ASIMO is powered by a 51,8 volt lithium ion battery, which is located in its backpack, and can operate for about 40 minutes on a single charge, ,with recharging taking three hours. Only one person is required to control the robot, using a laptop or portable computer and a wireless network.
ASIMO is certainly going to attract large crowds every time it goes through its demonstration routine on the Honda stand at the Johannesburg International Motor Show.
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