In a demonstration in Japan, the latest version of Honda’s humanoid robot Asimo impressed onlookers by showing off its ability to run for the first time. Check out the video clip.
A short video released by the Japanese car manufacturer shows Asimo jogging along. Its gait is rather comical and resembles that of a person trying to creep up quietly.
The robot can be said to be running because during each stride both its feet are in the air at the same time. Asimo would not be able to match a human in a sprint, however. The robot is only capable of a restrained 3 km per hour.
Running on two legs is a substantial technical challenge for roboticists because rapidly moving each leg easily upsets a robot’s balance. To deal with this problem, Asimo’s designers installed two new joints with their own balance sensors in the robot’s hips.
These allow it make adjustments as it runs to prevent slipping or falling over. New joints in Asimo’s hands also make the robot more dexterous and another in its neck allows it to tilt its head to one side.
“Running is really about understanding dynamics,” says Henrik Hautop Lund, at the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute for Production Technology in Denmark. “It’s really a major challenge.”