In 1986, Honda engineers set out to create a walking robot. Early models (E1, E2, E3) focused on developing legs that could simulate the walk of a human. The next series of models (E4, E5, E6) were focused on walk stabilisation and stair climbing. Next, a head, body and arms were added to the robot to improve balance and add functionality. Honda’s first humanoid robot, P1 was rather rugged at 6’ 2″ tall, and 386 lbs. P2 improved with a more friendly design, improved walking, stair climbing/descending, and wireless automatic movements. The P3 model was even more compact, standing 5’ 2″ tall and weighing 287 lbs.
ASIMO, which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, is the culmination of two decades of humanoid robotics research by Honda engineers. ASIMO can run, walk on uneven slopes and surfaces, turn smoothly, climb stairs, and reach for and grasp objects. ASIMO can also comprehend and respond to simple voice commands. ASIMO has the ability to recognise the face of a select group of individuals. Using its camera eyes, ASIMO can map its environment and register stationary objects. ASIMO can also avoid moving obstacles as it moves through its environment.
While development continues on ASIMO, Honda is demonstrating ASIMO around the world to encourage and inspire young students to study the sciences. And in the future, ASIMO may serve as another set of eyes, ears, hands and legs for all kinds of people in need. Someday ASIMO might help with important tasks like assisting the elderly or a person confined to a bed or a wheelchair. ASIMO might also perform certain tasks that are dangerous to humans, such as fighting fires or cleaning up toxic spills.