Asimo, the humanoid robot created by Honda’s research and development engineers, will return to South Africa for a number of demonstrations at the Johannesburg Motor Show, to be held at Nasrec, in October.
An earlier generation of the Asimo robot visited South Africa for the first time at the Auto Africa motor show in 2006. However, Asimo – Advanced Step in Innovation Mobility – has since learnt many new skills.
The humanoid robot coming to South Africa is the twelfth version in the programme started by Honda in 1986.
It is 1.3 m tall and weighs 54 kg, which Honda says 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 faster than its predecessors, with running speed now at 6 km/h, up from 3 km/h. It also 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.)
New technology even permits the robot to carry a tray and put it on a table, while it can transport heavy loads – up to 10 kg in weight – by pushing a trolley.
Asimo uses its camera eyes to recognise stationary obstacles, storing this information in its memory, which then enables it to avoid bumping into them when walking.
It can also recognise moving pedestrians in its walking path, and will stop momentarily until they are out of its way.
The robot’s intelligence goes further in that it can understand a number of voice commands and give an appropriate response, while it also uses a communication card to recognise and greet a person.
Asimo is powered by a 51,8 V lithium-ion battery, which is located in its backpack. It 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.