Honda's ASIMO Robot Gets Smarter

The walking robots' new skills will allow them to work together in an office environment.

Honda Motor Co. on Dec. 11 unveiled a new, smarter version of its ASIMO celebrity humanoid robot. The walking robots' new skills will allow them to work together in an office environment, the automaker said.

Two walking ASIMO humanoids showed off their new skills on Dec. 11 by pushing a cart, carrying cups of tea and serving the drinks to people sat at a table. They also displayed new social graces when a human approached in a hallway by stepping aside to let him pass.

The new, improved ASIMO also returns to a battery charging unit when it detects its power is running low. If one ASIMO is recharging, other robots will step in and take over its tasks.

The original ASIMO, born in 2000, has danced and dined with dignitaries and business leaders at home and overseas, serving as a symbol of Japanese technological wizardry.

Makers of robots see big potential for their use in Japan, where the number of elderly people is rapidly growing, causing labor shortages in a country that strictly controls immigration.

Toyota said last week that it aims to put robots capable of assisting humans into use by the early 2010s as it unveiled a robot that can play the violin.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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