Honda’s Asimo robot becomes faster and smarter

Upgrades transform Honda's electric child into something that's scarily human

Almost 15 years since Honda revealed Asimo (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, in case you were wondering), the robot's latest upgrades have seen it gain an array of new abilities, along with an eerie, permanent smirk.

And no wonder it's smiling. Asimo's physical improvements include new legs that laugh in the face of uneven terrain, walk backwards, hop and jump, and even run at speeds of 5.6 miles per hour.

Asimo’s hands, which now have 13 degrees of freedom, have also been redesigned, enabling the robot to hold and manipulate objects (preferably not our fragile skulls) without crushing or dropping them - including opening a bottle and pouring a drink.

Using sign language to communicate is just another one of the robot’s new capabilities - demonstrated by its ability to brag about its new skills.

And if you think it sounds like Asimo has its own personality, you're not wrong. It's now even more intelligent, thanks to shiny new AI software.

Asimo can also now recognise multiple faces and voices in a crowd, even if they're all talking to it at the same time. It can also predict and react to what's going on around it, like changing direction to avoid colliding with someone walking towards it.

Good to hear, then, that your future butler won’t be getting in your way in the house.

The big question, though, is just how intelligent robots are going to get - think I, Robot, and you just start to wonder how long it'll be before you're woken up in the middle of the night, with nothing but a pair of red glowing eyes to illuminate your terrified face...

[Honda via Engadget]

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