Just after the GSA scandal and the secret service brothel affair, I saw the full page advertisement for David8 a new humanoid robot by Weyland industries in the NY Times. While Weyland is as real as West World, the video touches a nerve. One does not have to look to far to find the real David8 in development.
The history of humanoid robotics is rich, and its brightest pupil may possibly be Honda’s ASIMO. While we have discussed in the past ASIMO’s speed and agility, we have never taken the adequate time to profile the endeavor in itself. Asking ourselves why is a humanoid robot needed anyhow. Robots after all are just tools, often used in situations that are too dangerous or difficult for their human counterparts, such as battle surveillance or disaster relief. However, there may come a time when companion robots that look like us will be more trusted than machines that resemble our vacuum cleaners.
ASIMO is Honda Motor’s innovation that bills itself as the “world’s first autonomous behavior control technology.” While he stands just over 4 feet tall, and ASIMO can move independently without the need for an operator or remote. This ten year endeavor is pushing the envelope of robotics with ground-breaking artifictial intelligence and physical ability to adapt to situations. The need for ASIMO is clear when one considers the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant and the real human deaths that came about by trying to put an end to the disaster. An army of ASIMOs could have been more efficient and safer in shutting down the plant.
The day when ASIMO will be called to duty is not far off, as Honda says, it will “focus on applying robotics technologies to mass-produced products and putting product applications into practical use.” Could ASIMO be David8’s Goliath?