Asimo Still Improving Its Hopping and Jogging Skills
Honda is teaching its robots to take longer and faster steps to recover from shoves by transitioning to a running gait, which is exactly what humans do if we need to
We learned last week that Honda is putting Asimo out to pasture, so to speak, which is a little sad, but not too sad: Honda is doing this because they want to instead focus on the other, more useful humanoid robots that they’ve been working on recently, like E2-DR. Honda learned a lot about humanoid robotics from Asimo, and even though we haven’t seen Asimo do much in the way of new stuff over the past few years, the robot has still been under active development. Or at least, it was, as of 2017, when Honda was teaching to to handle human abuse.
Nobody likes to see robots getting pushed or kicked, but we can make exceptions when roboticists are doing it for research-related reasons—for example, to demonstrate how resilient their quadrupeds or humanoids are by trying to shove them over. Boston Dynamics is famous for this, but Atlas is not the only humanoid talented enough to (mostly) keep itself upright in response to aggressive prodding.
At the IEEE International Conference on Humanoid Robots last year, Honda Research presented a rare look inside Asimo, both literally and figuratively. They’ve been working on teaching Asimo creative ways of handling shoves, by making dynamic transitions from standing or walking to hopping or jogging when necessary to keep its balance, and they did it with an Asimo that had almost no body covering.