ASIMO, an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, is a humanoid robot created by Honda. Engineers took more than 18 years of study, research, and trial and error to achieve their dream of this advanced robot. Success, however, hasn’t stopped them; research, new technologies, and functions are still being added to advance ASIMO even further.
Honda, a Japanese based firm, began with an idea for an advanced robot that can walk with steady and dependable motion a difficult concept to achieve. Even the name ASIMO promotes this idea, deriving from the Japanese words â€śashi, meaning leg or foot, and mo, meaning movement. Many good and bad experimental models resulted in a four-foot-tall, 115-pound wonder robot that’s currently being produced for educational and tour guide purposes. Thirty models are working today with many more planned for the future.
ASIMO’s ability to walk smoothly, climb stairs, and even recognize voices and faces has placed this robot at the top of the heap. These abilities are achieved with the hard work and research that went into the following basic components.
ASIMO is made up of twenty-six separate motors powered by a rechargeable 40V/10AH nickel-metal hydride battery. These motors operate twenty-six degrees of freedom, or what humans would refer to as joints. There are two degrees of freedom, joints, in the head, six in each arm, four in each leg, and two in each foot; all combining to create a smooth and human-like process of movement.
ASIMO’s eyes are cameras, three in all. These cameras, combined with the head’s degree of freedom, allow ASIMO a wide awareness of near and far surroundings.
The data from the cameras is transmitted into the computer on ASIMO’s backpack, which calculates movement.
This calculation, coupled with the software program, tell ASIMO to move forward, backward, stop, climb or bend.
This specialized software, I-Walk, creates a pattern for walking, changing feet as humans do, with steady placement and the ability to turn or react at will. In addition, a six-axis sensor in each foot guarantees a stable foot placement. Tipping or jerking movement isn’t the goal.
Gyroscope, to measure balance, and an accelerometer, to measure and predict speed, within ASIMO’s torso make negotiation of stairs, rough surfaces and slopes possible.
ASIMO’s cameras also allow face recognition. An electronic mapping of a person’s face, and storage of that mapping, allows ASIMO to instantly identify a person to its matched memory. The results are a unique, personal greeting.
Though commands are generally given through a wireless computer, ASIMO can comprehend some tasks from voice commands given in English or Japanese as well as hand signals. Of course the commands need to be programmed into the software, but endless commands are possible.
Future application of ASIMO is to serve as another set of eyes, ears, hands and legs for all kinds of people in need. ASIMO might also perform certain dangerous tasks, such as cleaning up toxic spills or fighting fires that are too difficult for humans to battle. As technologies advance, the applications for ASIMO and especially its assistance are endless.