Honda's robot is now faster, friendlier

Honda has upgraded its "humanoid robot" Asimo to improve its interactions with people — and speed it up.

Honda has upgraded its "humanoid robot" Asimo to improveits interactions with people — and speed it up.

"Asimo now has a revolutionary ability to run and manoeuvre at unprecedented speeds" of four miles per hour (about 6.5 kilometres per hour), Jeffrey Smith, American Honda assistant vice-president, said in a release.

That'sfaster than a typicaladult can walk.ButHonda said Asimo's progress in dealing with people is even more important.

The newest version of the Asimo (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday, can move in step with a person and exchange objects with a human.

These seemingly simple actions are possible because Asimo can recognize its environment, usingvisual sensors, a floor surface sensor, an ultrasonic sensor and an "optical communication function," which enables the robot to identifythe position ofa person or object.

With the optical device, "Asimo can recognize the location and identity of the person regardless of where the person stands in a 360-degree range from Asimo," Honda said.

The robot can also handa tray to a person ortake itaway, using the eye cameras inits head and the force sensors on its wrists, and push a cart without bumping into it or losing control, even when the cart veers off course.

Honda thinks humanoid robotics technology will one dayenableAsimo to help people who lack mobility, anddo work in areas too dangerous for people.

Honda, which has been working on the robot since 1986, said Asimo canrun, walk forward and backward, climb stairs, turn smoothly without pausing, and maintain its balance even while walking on slopes and uneven surfaces.

Asimo made its U.S. debutin early2002 when it rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.