In December 1996 Honda stunned the world when it unveiled the P2, the most advanced humanoid robot ever built up to that time. It is considered the world’s first self-regulating two-legged humanoid walking robot. The torso contained a computer, motor drives, battery, wireless radio and other necessary technology, all of which were built in. Independent walking at 2km/h, walking up and down stairs, cart pushing, and other operations were achieved without wires.
Based largely on the first prototype, the P2 is notable for its bulky upper body. The prototype proved so popular that hobby kit manufacturer Wave released a plastic model replica. Although discontinued, it may be possible to find one online for around $20.
Sensors included gyro sensors, G-force sensors, six-axis force sensors (at the wrists and ankles), and vision cameras. This model had 30 degrees of freedom (2 legs x6, 2 arms x7, 2 hands x4), stood 182cm (5’11″) tall, weighed 210kg (463 lbs), and was able to hold up to 5kg (11 lbs) per hand. Its batteries allowed it to operate for approximately 15 minutes.
Still too large to be considered “friendly”, Honda’s engineers were already working on a new prototype that would significantly reduce the overall size and weight.