Honda has used the Robodex 2000 exhibition to show off Asimo - a 120cm tall humanoid robot that walks in a similar way to a real person.
The robot, named Asimo for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, is a development of the Japanese company's P3 robot that was first produced in 1997. The new system provides for a much more natural-looking walk and, Honda officials said, allows the robot to react more quickly to sudden movements.
During a demonstration at Robodex which left the audience impressed, the Asimo robot was able to walk down a set of stairs with ease and exhibited none of the jerky and unsure movements of the company's previous robots.
Compared to the P3 and its predecessor the P2, the new robot is also smaller. Honda said its research showed people favoured humanoid robots of between 120cm and average human height. As a result, Asimo is shorter than Honda's earlier 180cm-tall P2 robot and the 160cm P3 model.
The smaller size makes Asimo look less threatening but still allows it to perform tasks such as opening doors and operating light switches, Honda officials said. Honda's interest in developing humanoid robots lies in their potential future applications in society and as aids to people, they added.
Honda has also made Asimo much lighter than its P3 predecessor, it weighs in at 43kg against the P3's 130kg. This was accomplished by reducing the frame of the robot, which had the by-product of adding to its user-friendliness, and making its body thinner. Asimo is 44cm deep and 45cm wide - significantly thinner that the P3 which was 76cm deep and 60cm wide.
The new Honda robot was unveiled at the same time as Sony showed off its SDR, or Sony Dream Robot, to the Japanese public for the first time. Premiered to the press earlier this week, the SDR is also in humanoid form although at 50 cm it is less than half the size of Honda's Asimo. Sony developed the SDR unit as part of its ongoing research into robot technology -- a business area the company made commercial last year with the release of Aibo, the world's first entertainment robot dog.