Hondas’ latest ASIMO humanoid robot has been upgraded so that it can now run, hop and even pick up and interact with objects.
The Japanese firm has been working on robotics since the 1980s, and this latest incarnation of ASIMO is the most advanced the company has ever produced, with improvements made to movement and reactions.
At the company's ASIMO Studio in Brussels, the robot demonstrated its ability to perform sign language in American and Japanese, as well as run and hop for the first time.
Honda said the improved agility and dexterity meant it was getting closer to being deployed as a helper for those who needed it, with suggestions it could work with the disabled or elderly.
Satoshi Shigemi, the chief engineer on ASIMO said: "Previous generations of ASIMO have demonstrated incredible fluidity and speed of movements. The all-new ASIMO takes this mobility, task performing ability and interaction with people to the next level and moves Honda one step closer to its ultimate goal of developing a robot that can be a helper to people in need."
Honda began their own development project in 1986, when they created the E0 robot, which had no torso and took up to 5 seconds to complete a single step. In comparison, the new ASIMO can run at up to 9km an hour.
The robot also features upgraded artificial intelligence that allows the robot to distinguish different voices in a room, even when several people are talking at the same time.
The company’s work on ASIMO has had spinoff benefits too – the firm used lessons learned from the project to build a survey robot that can be used to enter areas too dangerous for humans.
The project was started after the fallout of the 2011 Japanese earthquake that affected the Fukushima nuclear power plant and Honda's survey robot has since entered the reactor building at the crippled site.