HONDA disappears 10 When will Honda’s “ASIMO” be reborn?

When will Honda’s “ASIMO” be reborn? This thought is becoming increasingly strong. It is commendable that Honda is wholeheartedly pursuing the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), but its biggest rival, Tesla, is accelerating the development of humanoid robots. The technological advancements aimed at artificial intelligence (AI) are also being applied to EVs. However, Honda has put its research on ASIMO, a humanoid robot said to be at the top level globally, on hold. Tesla is developing technology that follows in ASIMO’s footsteps. Honda’s robot technology, unfortunately, risks being surpassed by Tesla. It’s a shame, truly a shame.

Tesla’s Development Became Full-Fledged in 2021

In December 2023, Tesla released a video on X showcasing the “Optimus Gen 2” humanoid robot in development. The robot’s posture control has evolved, resulting in improved balance and allowing it to squat, pick up an egg with its fingers, and perform other delicate tasks smoothly. The initial model, “Tesla bot,” announced in 2021, demonstrated that the research and development had just begun, but the second-generation model now appears capable of standing on its own. The second generation, being 10 kg lighter, has improved its movement speed by 30%.

The design of the robot’s body is also more refined, resembling the human form with added curvature. The footage showing the robot handling an egg indicates significant advancements in the precision of the tactile sensors embedded in its fingers. Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, has expressed a desire to launch humanoid robots between 2025 and 2027, and it seems that the development is progressing as planned.

Aiming for the Merger of Cars and Robots?

The process of judging and deciding is akin to driving a car. Although I have not asked Elon Musk why the humanoid robot was named “Optimus,” the name immediately brings to mind the Transformers’ “Optimus,” a movie character that transforms between a car and a robot, fighting alongside humans against evil forces bent on destroying the Earth.

I speculate that Musk’s ultimate vision for EVs is something akin to a Transformer.

Handling Eggs Without Breaking Them

Honda is the automaker most capable of quickly realizing Musk’s dream of Transformers. This is because Honda has already commercialized a robot comparable to “Optimus.” That robot is “ASIMO.”

Honda’s ASIMO Shocked the World

In December 1996, Honda’s announcement of the world’s first bipedal humanoid robot, “P2,” shocked researchers worldwide. The fact that an automaker succeeded in this development made global headlines. Honda did not present their findings at robotics conferences for ten years, continuing research secretly, which led to astonishment among researchers when they finally saw the stable bipedal walking, realizing the potential of bipedal robots.

Honda’s robotics research began with the initial bipedal robot model “E0” in 1986, followed by “P2” in December 1996, “P3” in 1997, and finally “ASIMO” in 2000, achieving remarkable results. ASIMO walking under the spotlight was undeniably cool.

Despite Lagging in EVs, There’s Still a Chance to Lead in Robotics

Robotics research and development became full-fledged in the 1960s, with Japan leading the way. However, in the U.S., entities like the Pentagon and Google, aiming for military applications, have used their financial power to surpass Japan. Currently, Boston Dynamics in the U.S., known for its adept fundraising, is at the forefront. According to a top-level Japanese robotics professor, “Honda is the only one capable of competing,” showing great expectations for Honda’s future research results.

Honda is hastily expanding its EV business, lagging behind Tesla. However, in humanoid robots, it leads the way. Although the development of ASIMO has been halted, it is believed that Honda’s labs are still working on the evolution of humanoid robots. We eagerly await the emergence of “ASIMO, Second Generation.” This could be the engine that allows Honda to catch up with and surpass Tesla in the EV race.