Honda unveils the new 2012 Asimo robot

Published: 08 November 2011

Honda has unveiled the new 2012 edition of the Asimo humanoid robot. And this one can move around without being controlled by an operator, says Honda.

So Honda Asimo will soon be running the world?

Don't mock. We worry that Honda's R&D types might have just such designs in the long run. They say, for now, that the 2012-spec Asimo is much more intelligent and can adapt to different situations. Sounds a bit like the fuzzy logic we were all talking about in 1990s ECUs.

It's typical of Honda's holistic approach that it continues to develop humanoid robots. It seemingly has little to do with the cars, bikes, marine equipment or mowers that it specialises in - but we like the idea that one day your next Jazz may feature a 'task-performing robot arm' like the new Asimo does. Might be just the thing to reach that courgette that's rolled out of the shopping bag and under your seat.

How clever is the new 2012 Asimo?

Honda says he's well on the way from being an 'automatic machine' to an 'autonomous machine'. The cheeky chappy now makes decisions based on his surroundings and the movements of people around him before deciding what to do.

Using similar technology as Volvo's facial recognition software, Asimo now monitors the people around him and predicts next movements for himself - and others. So he's less likely to walk into a crowd of people, or step into the road.

And the latest robotics means that the new Asimo can change his movement even mid-step. Beforehand, once he'd committed to a movement, that was it. He has been known to topple over on occasion. That seems less likely with the new and improved Asimo, which can now walk on uneven surfaces.

Bless! It's a bit like watching a progress report on your baby nephew learning to walk!

Indeed. And the new Asimo now has a new robotic hand which has sensors in each palm and finger. Apparently he can now pick up a glass without crushing it. Controlling his humanoid movements are 57 motors.

We're sure we'll be seeing the new 2012 Honda Asimo in action at the 2011 Tokyo motor show at the end of the month.

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By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet