Thursday, March 26, 2009

Honda's Android Project

I am fascinated by technology for several reasons. And robotics is at the fore of this fascination.

Many don't realize how far robotics has come. With cheaper and more powerful integrated circuits and computation, and clever programming, we are moving closer to the paradigm-shifting appearance of a "universal robot" on earth. A universal robot is a robot which can be programmed to do just about anything a human can, if I understand the concept properly. Perhaps these marvels will appear, even, within the next decade or so.

Honda has the most advanced robot to date, Asimo. See high-def video of him here:

Asimo is a stunning revelation for those who haven't been paying much attention to robotics. Usually robotics stories come at the END of a newscast, a little "human interest" story, so to speak. But robotics is developing rapidly, and its reality may soon overwhelm us. I know I indeed was stunned a few years ago when I learned that Honda had created a robot which walked like a human, even up stairs and inclines. And now Asimo is handling objects well, and interacting with humans, and even charging-up his battery pack by himself.
There are about 100 Asimo robots so far, and, of course, they're still in beta, or alpha, testing (although they CAN be rented for about $160,000 a year). They are constantly being upgraded. They recognize faces, and they speak a limited Japanese. They can hold your hand and walk with you, smoothly. They can bring you a drink.
The appearance of a universal robot is near.

...And did you know that there are cars which drive themselves? I mean, REALLY drive themselves. Through city traffic, or out in the desert and mountains, with no driver whatsoever, no remote control. Of course, they're still in beta testing, too, or maybe I should say alpha testing, actually.
The military already uses robotic planes, although humans make the important decisions, like when to fire their weapons.
And you thought The Terminator (movie) was stupid. Shame on you.

So, yeah, I'll take a robot. A female version, please. Maybe blonde hair, or a bright red, with aqua eyes. She'll teach me French, and she'll hold my hand. She'll enjoy talking about history, and art, and she'll giggle sometimes. She'll be smarter than me in some ways, but she'll envy my oil paintings. Of course, she'll get upgrades, and one day her new emotion service pack will be downloaded, and she'll leave me.
You can't have everything.


Esly Carrero said...

Great post Tim! I think I love technology a little more then you though. I'll have to fight you over that one.

That's totally rad man... I remember a couple of years ago.. when they were trying to develop robot legs so that they could jump and go up & down stairs properly. This one walks funny.. like a midget. They're like my height! That's hilarious!

uhh.. speaking of replacing them for social uses.. maybe people will end up buying these as their kids/servants. That would totally be weird! But I could totally see that happening.. especially cause people have been planning to upgrade their kids before the stages of birth through all the cloning & sperm donor ordeals.

Anyhow.. yeah.. robots are definitely awesome. what intrigues me though is the efficiency & development of the human body itself. It's like the most amazing developed machinery known to man... and doesn't even get rusty! It lives with water inside of it. How crazy is that?! The human eye is more intricate then any camera we've been able to create... and it works perfect inside our little delicately created bodies. IN-credible.. is what I say!

Once again.. nice post! I may repost it on my blog when I get time. :)

Tim Gardner said...

Esly, to be technical, you are actually 9 inches taller than Asimo. Asimo DOES walk funny, but his gait is actually an extraordinarily complicated series of movements and balances, and replicates the basic dynamics of the human gait. This is a first on the planet. No other animal can do this. It may seem silly, but it's a historic achievement. And he's getting better. He can RUN, and is doing more and more. Of course, he DOES look like a little spaceman, rather than a flesh and blood human. But non-intimidating functionality was the goal, and Honda (and other groups) are achieving just that.

And the human body? Nanotechnology is needed to achieve the replication of THAT, and it probably WILL, later this century.

Esly Carrero said...

"And the human body? Nanotechnology is needed to achieve the replication of THAT, and it probably WILL, later this century."


The Human body is waaay toooo advanced! :P To replicate DNA.. has been like ridiculously impossible. It's waaay too long and waaaay too small! It's like as long as running back & forth on a football field 70 times <--- (I think it's like way more then that.. I forget) and small enough for us to be able to see with our naked eye. And THAT'S ONLY our DNA. To do the rest is like.. totally miraculous!

Esly Carrero said...

oh.. okay.. actually if you were to line up the dna strands separately invidually it would reach earth to the sun 66 times & back... and there's also like a hundred billion neurons in the human brain.

I just wanted to add that.. to my lil' arguement of impossibilities. haha..

This is like the ole'days... but now, I have to type everything out now.

NOT FAIR! grr.. >:^(