Say goodbye to Asimo as Honda retires its cute bipedal robot for good
Asimo was the first robot with real personality. Honda’s cutesy bipedal robotic friend would crack jokes, do dances and could whip party tricks out like climbing stairs, jumping and even running. Now though, the fun has to stop as Honda has announced (via Nikkei Asian Review) it’s – quite literally – pulling the plug on Asimo as it moves towards retiring the little fella.
Having started development in the mid-1980s, with the first model releasing in early 2000, Asimo was a feat of engineering. Before Boston Dynamics began cranking out its, frankly frightening door-opening and punishment-withstanding robots, Asimo was the first truly untethered robot that could walk and climb stairs autonomously. It became a symbol for Honda’s research division and a figurehead for the advancement of robotics over the last twenty-something years.
Honda never put Asimo into production as a commercially viable product, but he was never really intended to be one. Aside from helping spur on a global industry in robotics advancement, Asimo’s navigation and sensor technology did find its way into Honda’s fleet of vehicles – so there’s that.
The end of Asimo doesn’t mean Honda is moving away from robotics though. After its near 20-year shift as the face of Honda’s robotics division, Honda just felt it was time for something new. To help facilitate this, many members of the Asimo team have moved over to Honda’s Centre X R&D division – a department tasked with implementing Honda’s robotics strategy going forward.
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So, as Honda put Asimo out to pasture – or send a blade runner after him as he attempts to escape – let’s take a look back over some of Asimo’s best moments.
There was that time Asimo played a short game of football with President Obama.
Or, how about that time Asimo served up a glass of orange juice like a true bartender before bar-tending robots were even a thing.
Let’s not forget Asimo’s key ability as a marketing device for wildly optimistic Honda ads.
Asimo also had a little bit of a stint on QI with Stephen Fry, doing a dance, going down a step and even having a little run.
Asimo wasn’t perfect though, here’s an older version not quite making it up some stairs…
We’ll be sad to see you go, Asimo. Here’s hoping Honda keeps the robot magic coming even without the little guy kicking around.