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Honda (barely) celebrates ASIMO’s 10th Anniversary

Honda has updated the official ASIMO website to celebrate the robot’s 10th anniversary with some meager content that leaves much to be desired.  Definitely check out “A Mate Walking Together”, the short story on Masato Hirose, who can be considered ASIMO’s “father”.  Then there’s the extremely disappointing 10th Anniversary video that tries to summarize 24 years of robotics R&D in 2 minutes, comprised entirely of old clips.  I was hoping there would be a lot more to it than that, more in line with the excellent “Dream the Impossible” documentaries you can watch on the official Honda YouTube channel.  They should really do a whole series on Honda’s robots.  It seems the whole program has come to something of a standstill due to a general lack of artificial intelligence capable of matching ASIMO’s mechanical capabilities.  From the press release:

Honda is now focusing its research on the development of intelligence as well as improving the understanding about the ideal interaction and relationship between people and humanoid robots.

It must be something of a bittersweet victory for Honda that ASIMO is so ahead of the curve.  It’s unknown just how many ASIMOs have been built, but I think it’s high time they dusted off those that are currently housed in museum exhibits and loan them to universities around the world to tackle the difficult problems.  To their credit they already have some partnerships, but clearly more is better.

The smart phone application (for both iPhone and Android) “Run with ASIMO” is not yet available, but is said to feature various Honda robots as characters you can interact with.  You can also check out photos of ASIMO being demonstrated recently alongside the HondaJet at Honda’s Flickr.

Update: videos of ASIMO’s appearance at the Honda Welcome Plaza in Aoyama are tucked under the break.

[source: ASIMO 10th Anniversary press release] via [TokyoTek @ Twitter]


Videos by K. Moriyama

Video (ASIMO running and dancing) (Mirror):

Video (ASIMO dancing) (Mirror):

Video (ASIMO walking in slow-motion) (Mirror):

Video (ASIMO running in slow-motion) (Mirror):

More coverage: TokyoTek

  • kert

    You probably know what i meant, but i will elaborate : a really basic, simple chess program checks each and every possible move.

    Thats brute force. And it works, to a degree. There are tons of smarter approaches to it, but just throwing loads of computational power at problem helps with certain problems.

    Certain vision algorithms can also be brute forced. Especially if you have a very large database to plug in from the backend ( see Google Goggles )

    And so on. Basic _components_ of AI can be helped by just throwing massive computing power and/or very large databases at it. Thats why i put “intelligence” in quotation marks, you CAN solve subproblems of general intelligence by brute forcing it.

  • alex

    to this: “that a lot of \intelligence\ can be basically solved by brute force computing.”
    I have to say: lol
    nuff said…

  • kert

    There is tons of improvements in basic tech still going on. MEMS sensors improvements, tactile sensors come to mind first.

    Battery technology keeps improving at rapid rate, now driven further by automotive applications.

    I have not seen many demos of what level of dexterity is built into ASIMOs hands ? Can it grab an egg without breaking it ?

    ASIMO intelligence : i am not sure if anyone has really tried, but i would plug high-level AI processes of that robot into cloud/grid computing, immediately. There is so much processing power available for cheap ( a bit high latency, yes ) that a lot of \intelligence\ can be basically solved by brute force computing.

    Leave low-latency tasks like basic sensor processing, actuator controls, balancing etc on board, and offload all higher level \thinking\ to very powerful grid computing backends.

    • Robotbling

      @ kert

      Sure, there are improvements. But I think Honda will probably wait until there are major breakthroughs before they redesign ASIMO. But who knows?

  • alex

    yes, I meant that it’s not useful practically without the intelligence – it’s good for research and all but you can’t use the robot outside the lab for real work. And A.I. could be used without a robot too, just in a computer -> HAL :)
    For humanoid robots the reality is they don’t know how to make an A.I. so they at least play with the electronics and mechanics so they have something to do and then some time when they have an A.I. they can at least use it directly with some robot :) – industrial robots are something else, they can be used now

  • alex

    humanoid robot without some intelligence is not so useful – you can mostly only use it for show and presentations
    – the only possible solution now would be teleoperation – like those flying drones but a remote terminator :) , i.e. for the use in dangerous places…maybe humanoid robotic astronauts – like that nasa one but with full body…

    • Robotbling

      @ alex

      Gotta disagree. Think about how much tech is involved in just building a robot like ASIMO that can walk and hold its balance the way it can. There’s definitely value in that. Also, just building ASIMO has caused a huge wave of inspiration around the world to build humanoids. We need systems like ASIMO before we get the intelligence anyway, otherwise the intelligence will be useless.

  • kert

    ASIMO development has pretty much stopped, hasnt it ? Sensors and actuators, processing power and not to mention power sources have kept improving over recent years, but there is nothing new being integrated in ASIMO.

    Its not like its on par with human body already, so there is tons of stuff still to be done apart from the intelligence research part.

    If they realistically want to do a robot soccer vs human teams in 2050, there is a long way of improvements still to be done on the physical parts.

    • Robotbling

      True, but I think even in its current state it would be pretty much ready to go if it had the necessary A.I.. We don’t need to duplicate an exact human being for it to be fully functional. I’m not sure how much battery technology has improved in the last 6 years (2004 was the debut of “New ASIMO”). By the time we have better actuators (more like human muscles) Honda will probably have to go back to the drawing board or buy Boston Dynamics and have a truly dynamic biped.