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New, More Autonomous Asimo Robot Unveiled By Honda

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the can-now-kill-all-humans dept.

Japan 62

An anonymous reader writes "Honda has just unveiled a new, upgraded version of its famous humanoid robot, Asimo. Its appearance didn't change much, but the new robot is lighter, faster, and stronger. It can walk on uneven surfaces, run backwards, and even jump on one foot. The new Asimo also has more dexterous hands and better image and voice recognition to interact with people. Honda's big push is clearly in the direction of making Asimo more autonomous, and useful, in human environments."

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62 comments

Combo (2)

ossuary (1532467) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991516)

I want to see Asimo riding atop an Alpha Dog. Just preferably, not towards me with a "kill all humans" sign.

Re:Combo (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991958)

I would rather see Asimo and alpha dog walking into a highly dangerous area and doing the work that man needs to do but really can't safely.

Re:Combo (0)

citizenr (871508) | more than 2 years ago | (#37992546)

Alpha dog is old news, and so is asimo.
PETMAN is where its at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mclbVTIYG8E [youtube.com]

Re:Combo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37997710)

I love how this usually goes - Japan unveils a new ASIMO that can.. walk! (as long as its an even flat surface)

Meanwhile in the US, a robot that can be pushed around and will keep its balance, and will probably soon be able to travel over complex uneven terrain.

Re:Combo (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#38004794)

Actually Japan is generally far ahead of the US in robotics. And you can actually buy ASIMO for around the price of a car. Show me a single product that a civilian can buy from Boston Dynamics. As cool as and as uncanny valley as Petman and Big Dog/Alpha Dog are , they are not interested in any market but the US military.

And I bet ASIMO is much more practical. You couldn't even find out what Petman is capable of without a security clearance and a need to know, but I doubt it is anywhere near as advanced in terms of intelligence as ASIMO. And at the moment Petman is still dragging wires behind itself.

Re:Combo (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38006926)

Petman doesnt need strong AI. They can make remote controlled land drone out of it with some 18 year old child serving in Military driving it like Predator.
Imagine the possibilities. It can run around killing innocent people with M16, and as soon as someone shoots back its an act of aggression against United States!

Jumping, yay! No, wait... (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37992630)

I am totally ready to buy -- even if it's *quite* expensive -- when I can buy a dependable robot in humanoid form that does all our housework. Wash (or load and start) the dishes, sweep/vacuum the floors, wash windows, do the laundry, sort and put away when clean, change the bedding and make the bed, clean the sinks, toilets, shower and tub, dust, polish the woodwork, bring coffee, cook and serve dinner, clean up afterwards, feed and water the cat, clean the catbox, be able to put away CDs and DVDs in alpha/title order, put away anything else where it goes, understand English at a decent level appropriate to its tasks, and be seriously off-putting (through the intercom) to religious folk and salespeople who come to the door.

Doesn't have to do outdoor work like mow the lawn, etc., thing will probably be as expensive as my house, at least initially, so I don't think we'd be comfortable with it wandering around outside... and besides, there's plenty to do in the house. :o)

If it's *really* humanoid, say french maid / english butler quality, I'll pay more.

I mean, I'm glad they've got Asimo v.X jumping on one foot. That kind of dexterity has got to be there, along with everything else... but it sure doesn't make the sale for me.

Re:Jumping, yay! No, wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37993324)

You already can!

They're called illegal mexicans.

Re:Jumping, yay! No, wait... (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38007460)

No, no, I've tried them... they just go up in smoke when you try to recharge them.

Re:Jumping, yay! No, wait... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37993670)

Agreed. Sign me up.

But, seriously, such a device even as a research prototype is unfortunately several years if not decades away. Part of the problem is hardware (not the part doing the computation but the motors, etc.), but robotics hardware is far ahead of robotics software at the moment. (For a clear view of this, one of my friends who does robotics research pointed out that telepresence surgery---which requires rather good dexterity from the robot hand---works but no one is even seriously suggesting an automated robot surgeon outside of sci-fi.)

Even the most basic tasks like reliably identifying and grasping objects are on the cutting edge of research. Machine vision and planning will have to get a lot better before a robot can know what it needs to do to complete household chores. Understanding even very simple natural language commands is also very much so in the early research stages.

A sibling poster suggested hiring a servant, but that's not really the same. A robot does not have comparable privacy issues, can be available 24/7 (excepting power issues, but if it's always inside it can probably be plugged in most of the time), and, more importantly, can be very cheap. The first generation will be expensive, but the cost of software and CPUs tends to go down rapidly and by the time the software is good enough for those tasks, today's hardware (which is possibly already good enough) will probably be old and cheap.

Re:Jumping, yay! No, wait... (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37993908)

can be available 24/7 (excepting power issues, but if it's always inside it can probably be plugged in most of the time)

Ultracaps: 1/10th the power of batteries, so 1/10th the run time, but... instant recharge, and effectively unlimited numbers of them. So the robot can drop a hand on a charge plate for about one second, then work for say, ten or twenty minutes. No need for it to have an extended run time if charging isn't a big issue.

As for the rest, yes, exactly.

Re:Jumping, yay! No, wait... (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37998430)

Asimo seems to blindly follow pre-programmed sequences of actions, like a clockwork mechanism rather than an adaptive system. This impresses me more.

Re:Combo (1)

guzzibill (593483) | more than 2 years ago | (#38002286)

well... Asimo and SIRI combined might give us a real head-start to human interfacing autonomous robots. It would have to do more than follow you around and perform phone tricks and web searches on command, but as a personal assistant?????? .... Apple should outright BUY honda. Damn I really don't want to have to buy Apple stock at it's present value, but I've always indicated to my children that if you broad-buy robotic company stock, you'll eventually wind up millionaires.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37991536)

...welcome our new robotic slaves.

I want one (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991680)

I have no idea what I'd do with it, but I want one. If anyone was looking for a Christmas gift idea for me, look no further.

Re:I want one (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991966)

I have no idea what I'd do with it,

When in doubt, try to hump it. It works for my dog.

Re:I want one (1)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#37992054)

I have no idea what I'd do with it,

When in doubt, try to hump it. It works for my dog.

Why did you get a dog if you don't know what to do with it? Also, reporting you to the SPCA...

Re:I want one (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37993078)

Also, reporting you to the SPCA

Go ahead. They will see exactly how mistreated my dog is [imageshack.us]... she's had her ovaries and uterus removed, but that doesn't stop her from trying to shine everyone's shoes.

9 kph running speed (4, Informative)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991700)

I'm genuinely impressed, that's faster than a lot of people are able to jog at.

Re:9 kph running speed (1)

andr00oo (915001) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991934)

that's faster than a lot of people are able to jog at.

Great, so when it hits a bug and I need to reboot it I'll have to get in the car if I want to catch it.

Re:9 kph running speed (1)

gajop (1285284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37995844)

Yeah, sure, it is indeed fast, but it does feel like the aim Asimo has is to achieve all goals and solve all problems modern of modern AI and robotics. Focusing on complex terrain walking, jumping, object manipulation, image and voice recognition and probably many more things not seen in the video is too much. And the problem of doing so many things in once is that once you fail one thing, the whole robot becomes of variable usability - if it fails walking, trips and falls, it will be of little use to people (same applies for failing to properly comprehend commands or detect objects). In comparison to the american (from my European standpoint) projects, like the grand DARPA challenges that aim to solve only a few things at once and may be aiming at a near future practical usage : autonomous cars, I feel Asimo will remain out of any real practical usage for a long time, until every single of those things has been nearly perfected.

Re:9 kph running speed (1)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37999384)

I don’t fully agree with you. The aim is to create a humanoid robot, and that goal necessitates the solving of several problems of modern AI. This will take a long time (and ASIMO may not be the platform to do it), but long before then, much of what they learn in the process will find its way into practical products.

Re:9 kph running speed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37999634)

I agree, I hope they combine this with Goog's self driving tech and let it run a marathon and see how it does!

Some of the competition's products are better (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37991732)

Like this one [youtube.com] from an outfit called OCP.

New HRP-4C revision when? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37991746)

When is the next revision of the HRP-4C coming out?

It can even (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991824)

If you look at the pics in TFA, it seems Asimo can also mix drinks, throw up the horns, and hit on multiple chicks at once.

Re:It can even (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37992914)

hit on multiple chicks at once.

It has already surpassed it's creators.This is a dangerous sign...

Great! But does it behave? (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37991906)

Now how will we guarantee that it doesn't injure humans? I don't care that it may, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; that would be like having no robot.

What I want to see is a robot design that won't go berserk if its control program throws an exception, making it move its powerful arms uncontrolled or fail to recognize were its fellow humans are located.

Re:Great! But does it behave? (1)

ejoosten (751337) | more than 2 years ago | (#37995210)

I think the safest way to assure it doesn't harm humans is to make it light, small and not very strong like Asimo. There's no need to have an industrial strength robot doing the dishes or cleaning the house. If it can lift 10kg (a bucket of water) it's powerful enough for most household tasks and too feeble to do much damage even to children.

Re:Great! But does it behave? (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#37997360)

+1 lateral thinking. I must say that I had in mind some basic behavioral rule that would also prevent killer robots in the army, like the First Law did.

Re:Great! But does it behave? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37999048)

Anyone who seriously believes Asimov's laws worked as intended completely missed the point of his books. Which sadly, seems to the majority of /. readers these days. I strongly encourage you to re-read his books because clearly the first time you read them, the material went over your head.

And honestly, a simple shutdown on exception/error is all that's required. The last thing we need are fuzzy, vague, rules which even humans easily subvert.

Re:Great! But does it behave? (1)

TuringTest (533084) | more than 2 years ago | (#38010240)

I am aware that the Three Laws didn't work as intended :-) That doesn't mean that having a core built-in safeguard is a bad idea.

I wasn't suggesting fuzzy rules, an auto-kill command as you suggest would suffice. A recent robot movie, (Eva [imdb.com]), on the lines of Spielberg's A.I., features a literal kill-switch triggered by a voice command, which proves itself useful in the narrative. But I doubt that the Asimo robot includes such a feature.

Asimo is cool... (5, Insightful)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37992014)

but I was hoping this upgrade would include "not walking like it's trying to suppress an explosive diarrhea incident".
That would be my first priority.

Re:Asimo is cool... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37992228)

And why you tried to make the one feature perfect, the woerld will leave you behind.

Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.

Nice, but... (1)

BlindSpot (512363) | more than 2 years ago | (#37992200)

Why is it that a company that can build something cool like that is the same one that says it'd take at least 6 freakin' weeks to build me a new Civic? That was AFTER the dealer tried to string me along of course. (Didn't work - I bought a Nissan instead.)

Dear goodness I hope if/when they ever start mass-producing these that buying one isn't like buying a car. "Sorry we don't have that model and colour in stock right now but we do have the deluxe model Asimo with Chrome finishing. Oh and be sure to get the undercoating and rustproofing package on your Asimo for long-lasting protection."

Price is? (1)

RCC42 (1457439) | more than 2 years ago | (#37992324)

Seriously, I looked on the website but couldn't find out how much an Asimo would cost... I mean, if there's just the one then that makes sense, but Honda is [i]Honda[/i]. It's not like they don't have any experience mass producing advanced machinery and electronics on some kind of assembly line.

So how can I buy one? Not for personal use of course, it would be a corporate expense... which we would use.. somehow for something.

Re:Price is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38006426)

Right now, they aren't for sale because they aren't ready for prime time. You can probably rent one for a short time, though--I've heard of companies in Japan using them as receptionists as a publicity stunt.

Now give it a gun... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37992434)

.. and then let it Kick Asimo!

Getting there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37992638)

Looks like we're almost close enough to have humanoid robots that can replace humans, but it still lacks a few things.

- A face. This would suffice http://mekabot.com/products/humanoid-head/
When a robot doesn't have a head or face, it's not "human-enough" to be considered something to be respected. The Meka head actually has a "emotive" presence, eg it can look upset if you shove it around.
- It needs to stand up slightly more human, the way Asimo walks kinda looks like part of a Russian dance, not walking. This is fixable just by changing it's center of balance, and making the legs move more like a human (which is to say, not simply swinging front to back, but rather swinging around) but it's pretty good so far. From an efficiency stand point, it's probably inefficient to make it walk like it's wearing stilettos but, but less scary looking if it can move gracefully.

The hands look pretty good. The first thing that came to mind was that scene from Short Circuit that was rather stiff, except this was more smooth.

But anyhow, I'm getting the impression that we are currently around the 1970's era in terms of computer age in comparison to robots. the 1970's was when computers were expensive, and companies might have had only one of them if they had a use for one. Come 1980's computer prices dropped by 90% allowing everyone to have one. Right now, all but the most expensive computers are half the price of where they were in the 1980's. Taking into account inflation (110% increase) they're actually closer to a quarter of the price, and Apple's computers are actually about half the price they were. So right now a robot would have to cost around 60,000$ before every business with a use for one might want one, and 6000$ in today's dollars before the average user would buy one.

Yeah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37992800)

If I push him will he fall over? ...I for one welcome our new robotic overlords.

laptop accessories (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37994112)

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environments (1)

mcswell (1102107) | more than 2 years ago | (#37995056)

"...making Asimo more autonomous, and useful, in human environments." So long as we're still useful in robotic environments.

Type-R Version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37998226)

Where is the lightweight and faster Asimo Type-R?

Karl's review (1)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 2 years ago | (#37999666)

I can't help but recall the immortal words of Karl Pilkington on seeing the Asimo: "It walks like it's shit itself.".

Whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38001846)

Call me when it can walk like it doesn't have to take a dump...

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