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Honda Upgrades Robot Asimo

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 757 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. NHNE 2002 Fall/Winter Fundraiser: Money needed = $2090.00
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2002
      NHNE News List
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      Wednesday, December 11, 2002


      TOKYO (AP) -- Honda Motor Co. may have come up with the most attentive and
      perhaps honest car dealer ever in its child-size walking robot Asimo.

      The four-foot-tall machine, shown to reporters Wednesday, already knew how
      to walk, climb stairs and recognize voices. An upgraded version now also
      understands human gestures and movement.

      The robot is used as a promotional tool, reciting information about cars in
      showrooms and appearing in commercials and at Honda events. It rang the
      opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in February.

      At your service

      The upgraded robot turns its bubble-shaped head to follow the moves of
      nearby people, giving it a communicative, ready-to-help appearance.

      Asimo uses the visual information taken by a camera in its head to recognize
      10 different preprogrammed faces and will call out that person's name.

      "It won't follow strangers," says Honda chief engineer Yoshiaki Sakagami.

      The company refuses to disclose the cost of the robot, which first went on
      sale two years ago.

      Honda will offer the improved model for rental next year in Japan at
      $162,000 a year. It now rents to seven companies in Japan.

      Going places

      In a demonstration at Honda headquarters in Tokyo, the new robot understood
      where a person is pointing and moved in that direction.

      "I will go where you instruct," it said in a childish electronic voice.

      If a person circles an arm above the head, the robot understands it is being
      summoned. Wave, and it waves back.

      Asimo -- a name based on the Japanese word for "legs" -- can stop or walk
      backward to avoid an approaching person. And it connects to a wireless
      computer server to recite information about cars.

      Large photo of Asimo:


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