The Honda technology group decided to cancel the development of Asimo, a pioneer of humanoid robots and a celebrity in Japan, to focus on the creation of other automata in the face of high competitiveness in the sector, the NHK news network reported today.
The Japanese media said that the team was dissolved after more than 30 years of research and nearly two decades of “life” of the iconic robot with which Honda wanted to be at the forefront of robotics, which was introduced in 2000 and in whose improvements a team of engineers of the company worked so far.
In these almost twenty years Asimo rubbed shoulders with personalities such as the former US President Barack Obama, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, or the King and Queen of Spain, Felipe VI and Mrs. Letizia, and participated in various events to showcase their capabilities around the world .
The word of Honda
A spokesman for the Japanese company, however, said today that “they are working continuously on robotics,” and said the group’s robotic development department “still exists” although it did not want to confirm that the Asimo project will be abandoned.
On the humanoid robot in particular, said: “Asimo is our great property and great hero, we will not decide on such an important issue so easily,” suggesting that the company itself would be considering abandoning the project.
According to NHK, the Japanese conglomerate wants to focus on designing robots with sanitary applications, such as nursing assistants, using the experience and technologies cultivated in the Asimo development years, from which it came to create seven generations.
The intense competitiveness in the sector in recent years, with the emergence of companies like the American Boston Dynamics (acquired in mid-2017 by Japan’s Softbank, owner of the humanoid robot Pepper) would also have influenced the decision.
Characterized by his appearance as an astronaut and his movements very similar to those of humans, Asimo was presented in Japan on October 31, 2000, after 14 years of research to create a machine capable of walking as a person.
In 2002, Asimo became the first non-human to give the famous bell that marks the opening of the Wall Steet stock market. Since then he has toured at technology conferences, acted in advertisements and even served as a guide at the Miraikan science museum in Tokyo for Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Precisely with the former president he played soccer in 2014 during his visit to the museum, while the images of Merkel a year later trying to shake his hand without success went around the world.