Brian (digibri) wrote,

Honda Reveals Technologies for Next-Generation ASIMO

Honda Reveals
Technologies for Next-Generation ASIMO

Just in time to add to my Xmas list!



Tokyo, Japan, Dec 15, 2004 - (JCN Newswire) - Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (TSE:
7267) today announced the development of new technologies for the
next-generation ASIMO humanoid robot, targeting a new level of mobility that
will better enable ASIMO to function and interact with people by quickly
processing information and acting more nimbly in real-world environments.

Key technologies include:
1) "Posture Control" technology* making it possible to run in a natural
human-like way
2) "Autonomous Continuous Movement" technology enabling flexible route to
3) Enhanced visual and force sensor technologies enabling smoother
interaction with people

1.Posture Control technology:
The combination of newly developed high-response hardware and the new
Posture Control technology enables ASIMO to proactively bend or twist its
torso to maintain its balance and prevent the problems of foot slippage and
spinning in the air, which accompany movement at higher speeds. ASIMO is now
capable of running at a speed of 3km/hour. In addition, walking speed has
been increased from the previous 1.6 km/hour to 2.5 km/hour.

2.Autonomous Continuous Movement technology:
The next-generation ASIMO can maneuver toward its destination without
stopping by comparing any deviation between the input map information and
the information obtained about the surrounding area from its floor surface
sensor. Moreover, ASIMO can now autonomously change its path when its floor
surface sensor and visual sensors located in its head detect obstacles.

3.Enhanced visual sensor and force sensor technologies allow for smoother
interaction with people:
By detecting people's movements through visual sensors in its head and force
(kinesthetic) sensors which have been newly added to its wrists, ASIMO can
now move in sync with people allowing it to give or receive an object, shake
hands in concert with a person's movement and step forward or backward in
response to the direction its hand is pulled or pushed.

By continuing to advance these new technologies, Honda will pursue
development of an ASIMO that will be useful to people.

--Key specifications of the new model:
1. Running speed: 3km/hour (airborne time: 0.05 second)
2. Normal walking speed: current model 1.6km/hour --- new model 2.5km/hour
3. Height: 130cm (current model: 120cm)
4. Weight: 54kg (current model 52kg)
5. Continuous operating time: 1hour (current model 30 min)
6. Operating degrees of freedom: Total 34 degrees of freedom (current model:
Total 26)

--Hip rotational joint: Increased walking speed was achieved by the
proactive rotation of the hips in addition to swinging of the arms, which
cancel the reaction force generated when the legs swing forward during
running or walking.
--Wrist bending joint: Due to two additional axes in each wrist, the
movement of the wrist area is more flexible.
--Thumb joint: Previously, one motor operated all five fingers. With
addition of a motor that operates the thumb independently, ASIMO can now
hold objects of various shapes.
--Neck joint: With an additional axis added to its neck joint, ASIMO's
expressiveness has been enhanced.

*More about the new Posture Control technology:
In order to realize "running," two major obstacles had to be overcome. One
was an accurate leap and the absorption of the landing impact, and the
second was prevention of the slipping and spinning which accompany movement
at higher speeds.

1. Accurate leap and absorption of landing impact:
In order to run, a robot has to be able to repeat the movements of pushing
off the ground, swinging its legs forward, landing within a very short time
cycle and without any delay, absorbing the instantaneous impact shock of
landing. With a newly developed high-speed processing circuit,
highly-responsive and high-power motor drive unit, in addition to
light-weight and highly rigid leg structure, Honda realized highly accurate
and responsive hardware with performance levels more than four times faster
compared to that of the previous model.

2. Prevention of spinning and slipping:
Due to reduced pressure between the bottom of the feet and floor, spinning
and slipping are more likely to happen right before the foot leaves the
floor and right after the foot lands on the floor.

Overcoming the problem of spinning and slipping was the biggest control
element challenge related to increasing running speed. Combining Honda's
independently developed theory of bipedal walking control with proactive
bending and twisting of the torso, Honda developed a new control theory
which enables stable running, while preventing slipping.

Through these technologies, ASIMO is now capable of smooth human-like
running at a speed of 3km/hour. Moreover, walking speed was increased from
the previous 1.6 km/hour to 2.5 km/hour.

When a human runs, the step cycle is 0.2 to 0.4 seconds depending on one's
speed, and the airborne time, when both feet are off the ground, varies
between 0.05 to 0.1 seconds. The step cycle of ASIMO is 0.36 seconds with an
airborne time of 0.05 seconds, which are equivalent to that of a person

About Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Honda is one of the leading manufacturers of automobiles and power products
and the largest manufacture of motorcycles in the world. Honda has always
sought to provide genuine satisfaction to people worldwide. The result is
more than 120 manufacturing facilities in 30 countries worldwide, producing
a wide range of products, including motorcycles, ATVs, generators, marine
engines, lawn and garden equipment and automobiles that bring the company
into contact with over 17 million customers annually.


Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Tatsuya (David) Iida
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