Asimo, the humanoid robot built by Honda to wave, walk and even run, will no longer be developed or improved upon.
Honda has instead made the decision to take some of Asimo's technology and apply it to other robotics projects with closer links to useful, real-world products, like the firm's self-balancing motorcycle and a robotic wheelchair.
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Although primarily a car and motorcycle company, Honda has seen some commercial success in other industries with the HondaJet compact business airplane and fuel cell batteries. But Asimo never reached commercialization, and instead became a walking, talking Honda advert.+
Now, Honda has decided to end the Asimo project, according to a report by Nikkei. Asimo made its debut in the year 2000, but had been in development at Honda since as far back as 1986.
The seventh and most recent iteration of Asimo first appeared in 2011. It measures 4ft 3in tall, weighs 105 pounds, and can walk at 5.6mph. Asimo's name stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.
Renowned for its ability to balance, the Asimo robot wowed crowds by walking like a human, even climbing stairs, running, and playing soccer with President Obama. Asimo sometimes made mistakes, however, and once fell down the stairs during a live demonstration.all
Development of Asimo, the HondaJet and fuel cell batteries started at around the same time, with Asimo the only one to not to reach commercialization. Nikkei reports: "With no payday on the horizon, Honda has decided to end the project," but adds: "Still, Asimo will live on as Honda seeks to develop products that make use of the robot's underlying technology."
Honda's Japanese website said (translated) on June 28: "We are working to divert Asimo technology to mass-produced products".
It is reported that several engineers who worked on Asimo has been poached by other Honda projects, such as the development of self-driving technology where their knowledge of sensors and artificial intelligence is being put to more practical work than a running robot.
Despite Asimo's retirement, Honda is still involved with the development of robotics — only this time in more helpful applications. At the CES technology show in January, the company revealed four new robots it is working on; they feature the same cute, inoffensive design as Asimo, but have more practical uses.
Branded under the name 3E Concept, the robots include one which works like an autonomous all-terrain vehicle, an upright robotic wheelchair, a robot designed to offer comfort like a service dog, and a general purpose robot used for carrying things.