Coming soon to a place near you—a robot to meet and greet you. A new model of ASIMO, the intelligent humanoid robot that can interact with humans, has been released by Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (Tokyo).

Recognition technology is the basis for the key features of the new ASIMO. Using the visual information captured by the camera in its head, the humanoid robot can follow the movements of a person, follow a person, and greet a person when he or she approaches. ASIMO can also use the visual information to interpret hand position and movement, and recognize postures and gestures. Thus, it can recognize an indicated location and move there, shake the hand of a person offering a handshake, and wave back in response to a wave.

ASIMO can also assess its immediate environment, so it can recognize immobile objects in its path and move around them, and stop and start to avoid a moving human or object. The ability to identify the source of sounds has been upgraded, and ASIMO can distinguish between voices and other sounds. Thus, it can recognize when its name is called and turn to face the source of the sound, look at and respond to the person speaking, and recognize unusual sounds and turn in the direction of the sound.

Once it has learned them, ASIMO can recognize the faces of up to 10 different people, even if ASIMO or one of the persons is moving. It can greet these persons by name, give them messages and guide them to a learned location.

Using networks such as the Internet, ASIMO can provide information while executing tasks such as reception duties. It can greet a visitor, transmit a message and a picture of the visitor to personnel, and guide the visitor to a predetermined location. Honda plans to begin renting this new version of ASIMO to public institutions and companies this year.