My First Look at ASIMO, Honda's Famous Walking Robot

When I first saw ASIMO from a distance, he was walking up stairs in front of a huge crowd at CES.  Truthfully, my first impression was disbelief.  "No way that's a robot!" I was thinking.

But it was.  ASIMO is Honda's 4' tall 119 lb humanoid robot.  The project - to get a robot to walk and run and jump and move like a human.  In the minds of Honda's engineers, there'll be an ASIMO-like bot in homes all over America in 15-20 years ... as butlers, caretakers, nannies, and so on.  Honda hopes to have the first retail model "on the shelf" in about 10 years.

ASIMO stands for "Advanced Step In MObility", and the guys at Honda said that their biggest priorities with the bot were two fold... 

1) Effective and full range of motion.  He's got to be able to run, walk, jump, react quickly, walk up and down stairs, etc.  At the show they said that they pretty much have the basics down, now they're taking their motion algorithms out for a spin to see what they can really do.  For instance, a big goal is to get ASIMO to react *fast*, not just to react ... he can't be kicking your stealthy little cat or falling if he steps on your kids' toys (in his current evolutionary state, he wouldn't be able to get back up).  You get the idea.

2) He's got to be more power efficient.  Currently, his entire backpack is a Lithium ion battery that gives him about 1 hour of juice and takes about 4 hours to charge.  In the future, ASIMO will be run by a fuel cell similar to the ones Honda's putting in their hybrid cars.  Now that'll be sweet!

Here are a few pictures I took at CES.  Wish I had more to share.  Maybe someone else can post some they took in the comments.

ASIMO walking down stairs
ASIMO walking down stairs -- Amazing!


Example of ASIMO caring for an older woman
Example of ASIMO caring for an older woman.  They showed a number of quick concept video snipets like this.


ASIMO with the product engineers from Honda
ASIMO with the product engineers from Honda


Just another shot of ASIMO on stage
Just another shot of ASIMO on stage