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Biometric Robot

Honda Motor Company has been parading their 4 foot tall multifunction robot, ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) around to various US schools and Universities recently to generate interest in science and robotics. ASIMO is an “it”. While researching this story, I strangely found myself referring to it as a "him".  I guess it is partly the football helmet look that allows it to take on the him persona. ASIMO walks, talks (recognizing people and referring to them by name) , can shake hands and even climbs stairs. ASIMO has two cameras inside its head to keep track of his environment and to take pictures of human faces. He can listen when he encounters humans. Then, using both voice recognition and facial recognition software, ASIMO can recognize and greet a person by name. ASIMO wears a backpack containing a 17-pound nickel metal hydride battery which has enough power to take him through his paces for about 30 minutes. ASIMO is controlled by a single operator using a wireless laptop. According to the Honda website, Honda engineers created ASIMO with 26 Degrees of Freedom that help him walk and perform tasks much like a human. One Degree of Freedom is the ability to move right and left or up and down. These degrees of freedom act much like human joints for optimum movement and flexibility. ASIMO has two Degrees of Freedom on his neck, six on each arm and six on each leg. Lightweight materials, like a magnesium alloy structure, combined with powerful computers in its backpack and 26 servo motors throughout his body help ASIMO walk and move smoothly with ease. When he hears a sound, his head will move in that direction. He will also follow peoples movements. ASIMO can comprehend and carry out tasks based on simple voice commands given in English that have been pre-programmed into its onboard memory. ASIMO is designed to operate in the real world, where people need to reach for things, pick things up, navigate along floors or sidewalks. If you cross his path, he is programmed to stop and let you safely pass. Currently he is unable to step over objects in his path. Some of the latest features implemented allow ASIMO to run or jog and reach for your hand if his sensors detect that you want to shake hands. The result is a more realistic handshake with a moving thumb. A new wrist sensor allows ASIMO to be taken by the hand and led even by a child. It can sense a push or a pull. For a video demonstrating ASIMO’s multiple biometric recognition capabilities, check out the following link:

http://asimo.honda.com/movie/qt_download/intelligence_tech_300.mov

To say this little guy gets around would be an understatement. ASIMO has been on a world tour. He has been a big hit at Epcot Center at Disneyworld Florida in addition to visiting six European countries including Germany and the Czech Republic. ASIMO has also visited the Science Museum in Barcelona, Spain and rung the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.  His next three US tour stops are in Columbus OH, at Ohio State University, January 27-29, 2005, Minneapolis, MN, at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, February 24-26, 2005 and West Lafayette, IN at Purdue University, March 10-13, 2005.

http://world.honda.com/ASIMO/ or http://asimo.honda.com/

If you want to see ASIMO in 3D action, go to:

http://world.honda.com/ASIMO/3d/

It may be about 10 years before you can buy your own ASIMO to help out with those necessary chores around the house or to deliver mail at the office according to Honda. I'm already wondering if he'll be a legitimate BW office expense if we just send him out for coffee and donuts. Then again, perhaps you can picture him as a very polite, multilingual future airport TSA screener. "Your passport please....".  For ASIMO, the biometric authentication part of the job will be a breeze.

(Photo credits: Honda)


 
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