Honda Introduces New ASIMO Humanoid Robot For Rental Business In Japan

11/13/2001 11:24:00 PM

Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today introduced a new, improved version of the humanoid robot "ASIMO" that will be made available for rental in Japan. This latest version of ASIMO, a robot first introduced in November 2000, represents a further advancement in Honda's advanced flexible walking technology, with a simplified system that will enable its use in public areas.

The latest technological advancements enable ASIMO to move more freely in ordinary environments, including climbing and descending stairways and slopes. Further, it can receive voice input and guide customers. With these added features, ASIMO has become more practical with specialized movements and guidance and explanation functions enabling ASIMO to be customized according to a wide range of user requirements.

New ASIMO Features

1. Improved flexible walking technology

  • Achieving of 3-D flexible walking -- when introduced in November 2000, ASIMO represented a major breakthrough for its "i-WALK" (intelligent Real-time Flexible Walking) technology, which incorporates a new, real-time "predicted movement control" capability. The enhancements announced today enable ASIMO to adapt for 3-D movement on stairs and slopes, in addition to 2-D movement on level ground. This new technology enables ASIMO -- with its high degree of flexibility -- to navigate irregular configurations, walk up and down long staircases, and turn on the spot on slopes that require a change in posture with every step.
  • Achieving efficient, smooth on-track movement - ASIMO now has more independent movement along a prescribed course. By roughly setting the point of departure, the termination point and several relay points along the route - which prevents ASIMO from straying off course - ASIMO can now correct its own foot placement position and body direction one step at a time, creating its specific route independently, and more efficiently. Further, a "mark-recognition sensor" enables ASIMO to correct errors in position that occur with movement over a great distance -- this provides ASIMO more autonomous movement.

2. Improvement of the human interface

  • Simplification of the peripheral system - two key changes have simplified the entire peripheral system. First, the workstation that monitors ASIMO's operation and movements have been built into a compact laptop computer. Second, the "voice-recognition function" -- up until now contained in an external PC -- has been moved into the body of ASIMO.
  • Simple operation -- previously, ASIMO's start-up required adjusting the position of each part and verifying the sensor signals. Through adoption of a new automatic adjustment system, start-up and operation of ASIMO is much easier -- with start-up time reduced to 4 minutes, just one tenth of the previous 40-minute requirement.
  • Further, in addition to commands from a PC, it is now possible to use voice commands to control arm and hand motions and locomotion. This is achieved through an on-board CPU for voice management that has been incorporated into ASIMO, making operation much simpler.
  • ASIMO can now recognize the direction of a source of sound, enabling it to face the direction of the person's voice, and follow the commands given. With good visibility, operation of a portable controller enables direct command and operation of ASIMO within a distance of several tens of meters.