Automotive

Honda halts development of Asimo humanoid robot


It hasn’t always been pretty, Asimo, but it’s always been entertaining. Through the falls, the fails, and the extremely noteworthy successes, we feel like we’ve watched Honda’s little robot grow from a baby into, well, a sort of slow and occasionally clumsy toddler. And we’re going to miss the little guy, especially since all we have now are all those terrifying creations rolling out of the Boston Dynamics lab.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Honda has halted development of Asimo, but even if the humanoid robot portion is now dead, the project will continue. As humorously parodied by “Saturday Night Live” not long ago, the actual usefulness of a cute little robochild is limited. But the technology that makes Asimo tick can be applied to many more useful endeavors, including physical therapy and self-driving automobiles.

The Asimo project — which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility — began way back in 1986 with a pair of legs that Honda called E0, and it rapidly grew from there. The first humanoid Asimo hit the scene in 2000, and seven generations later, Honda added enough artificial intelligence that the robot could autonomously interact with people and its surroundings. Each successive generation added more layers of advancement, technology, and even a certain humanizing style.

So, instead of writing a eulogy, instead we’re happy to look forward to a future where Asimo’s technology might lead to commercially available self-balancing motorcycles, self-driving cars, and, well, other cute little robots with no practical purpose. Oh, and don’t forget the robotic beer cooler. That one has real-commercial-success-story written all over it.

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