Honda is Bringing the Future to the Present with the ASIMO
If you’re anything like I am, the word “ASIMO” probably has you thinking that Honda’s got another brand new car, adding innovative technology to the auto market yet again, perhaps with something interesting and unique like their natural-gas-powered Civic.
However, that’s not the case. ASIMO is actually an acronym, standing for Advanced Step in Innovative MObility, and it is perhaps the most technologically advanced humanoid robot in existence.
Honda has been making robots since the 80s, but nothing has really compared to the ambition the automaker has had with the ASIMO. As of right now, Honda’s robot can “see” moving objects, discern postures, faces, gestures, and its environment, and process and understand sounds.
Even though ASIMO is able to reciprocate handshakes and waves, we’re still a ways away from the droids of Star Wars, but I dare you to watch a video of the ASIMO in action and not be amazed.
I know I was amazed by everything it was capable of. I didn’t quite expect an automaker like Honda to be involved in robotics, either, but the impact ASIMO could have on the future of automobiles is a big one. How could it be that a robot affects what and how we drive?
Well, it’s simple: By making a human-sized robot and perfecting its ability to act and move as people do, you’re not many steps off from a car you don’t have to drive.
Now, there are already a bunch of innovations — things like front collision detection and lane-departure warning technology — that are paving the way for self-driving cars, but employing an ASIMO as a chauffeur actually seems like a feasible idea.
There’s something, to me at least, that seems a bit unnerving about a self-driving car. By having a robot like an ASIMO come paired with an automobile, you get more than a self-driving car. At that point, you could easily have the ASIMO serve as a butler as well as chauffeur.
Until then, though, I know it will be a while before I get tired of seeing the baby steps we’re making toward the science fiction futures we were promised decades ago.