News Releases 2003
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CorporateU.KJuly 1, 2003
Scientific symposium sees first demonstration of Honda's advanced humanoid robot

U.K, July 1, 2003 --- Honda Motor Europe Ltd. ASIMO - one of the world's most advanced humanoid robots made its European debut today at a major scientific symposium entitled "From High Tech to Intelligence - The Challenge of Humanoid Robots" held at the University of Darmstadt, Germany.

Developed by Honda, ASIMO (which stands for Advanced Step in Innovative MObility) is regarded as one of the most advanced walking robots in the world. Utilising new advanced motion technology, ASIMO can not only walk forward and backwards but also turn sideways, climb up and down stairs, and turn corners. As such, ASIMO is the closest robot yet to replicating the natural walking motion of humans, as demonstrated in two live demonstrations at the symposium.

In addition, delegates at the symposium were given details of new developments in intelligence technology being applied to ASIMO. These include the ability to recognise people, objects and gestures, calculate distances and the direction of movement of several objects. These give ASIMO a range of abilities including approaching persons, following them, moving in the direction they indicate and even recognising their faces so as to address them by name. ASIMO can also identify voices and respond to certain instructions

Speaking at the Darmstadt symposium Honda Research Institute Europe President Prof. Dr. Edgar Koerner said, "ASIMO is of course a fantastic showcase for our world class engineering and technological expertise but it also reflects Honda's determination to develop advanced products that will deliver real benefits to people now and in the future. Our vision is to create a humanoid robot capable of interacting with and supporting humans to make our lives easier and more pleasant."

Honda stressed that there is a long way to go before specific roles can be assigned to humanoid robots. However it might be possible that they could provide assistance and give greater independence to the disabled and elderly. ASIMO is already being rented out by Honda to corporations and organisations in Japan for promotional roles such as welcoming visitors.

The Darmstadt symposium provided leading academics in the field of robotics the opportunity to see ASIMO demonstrated live for the first time in Europe, learn more about the technological advances contained within it and exchange information with senior representatives from Honda's research and development team. It also provided a forum to debate the challenges and opportunities that will influence the future development of the next generation of humanoid robots.

Commenting further on ASIMO, Prof. Dr. Edgar Koerner said "As recognised by the title of this symposium, clearly realising the dream of a truly humanoid robot is a long way off, but we believe that ASIMO is a major step forward in helping to achieve it. Today provides us with an opportunity to share our work with others in the field and we hope this will stimulate further advances in the future".

One of the leading academics, Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter, head of the Neuroinformatics Group at the University of Bielefeld said, "Very important and encouraging progress can be seen in the development of humanoid robots with the necessary cognitive capabilities which make them really suited for households and offer an effective support to people and not only to computer scientists and engineers."

The Darmstadt symposium is the precursor to a major programme of public demonstrations of ASIMO across Europe beginning at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

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