A new version of Honda's ASIMO humanoid robot was revealed today. The improved robot can pursue key tasks in a real-life environment and features an advanced level of physical capabilities.

The new ASIMO can act in harmony with people for example, walking with a person while holding hands. It can also give and receive objects, and walk while using a trolley or cart. Plus, the development of a "total control system" enables ASIMO to automatically perform a series of everyday human tasks, such as those of an information guide.

The running capability of ASIMO is dramatically improved, with the robot now able to run at a speed of 6km/h and can also run in a circular pattern.

The goal of Honda's Research and Development team is to create a truly useful humanoid robot which possesses both intelligence and physical capabilities at a high level.

The new ASIMO revealed today has achieved the advanced physical capabilities target, so now Honda will continue in its R&D efforts by shifting focus to the area of intelligence, which will further enable ASIMO to make comprehensive judgements based on various situations.

An overview of ASIMO's latest developments

1. New function to perform tasks automatically in harmony with people: ASIMO is now capable of performing tasks automatically in harmony with the movement of people. This was achieved by providing ASIMO with the ability to recognise the surrounding environment through its visual sensors, floor surface sensor, ultrasonic sensor, and by an IC Tele-interaction Communication Card, which is held by the person with whom ASIMO will interact. Through the coordinated use of the eye camera in the head and the force (kinesthetic) sensor on its wrists, ASIMO can give and receive an object such as a tray in a timely manner. Further, by using this sensor, ASIMO can hold the hand of the person and move in sync with them.

2. New function to carry objects using a trolley or cart: ASIMO is now capable of handling a trolley freely while maintaining an appropriate distance from the trolley by adjusting the force of its right and left arms to push a trolley using the force (kinesthetic) sensor on its wrists. Even when the movement of the trolley is disturbed, ASIMO can continue manoeuvering by taking flexible actions such as slowing down or changing directions.

3. Improved running functions: Through proactive control of ASIMO's posture while both feet are off the ground, the running speed was doubled from the previous 3km/h to 6km/h. In addition, running in a circular pattern at a high speed was achieved by tilting the centre of gravity of ASIMO's body inside of the circle to maintain balance with the amount of centrifugal force experienced.

Various technological achievements obtained through the research and development of ASIMO, including posture control technologies, image and voice recognition technologies, and technologies to anticipate and avoid collisions, will be applied to other technological pursuits within Honda, such as automotive safety technology and other areas.