Asked by: BBC Focus Magazine
Honda Motor Corporation’s Asimo, with its humanoid appearance and ability to walk and climb stairs, has been dubbed the world’s most advanced robot. Yet during the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, there was surprise that this triumph of Japanese robotic engineering wasn’t deployed in the reconnaissance and clean-up operation. Instead, US-made military robots were drafted in. Perhaps that’s because Asimo is primarily a PR device whose ultimate function is in domestic settings or helping the elderly. Elsewhere, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created one of the world’s most sophisticated snake-like robots (left) and a team at the University of California at Berkeley is working on robots the size of insects. While Asimo’s walking is undoubtedly impressive, robotic snakes and bugs can reach parts that Asimo can’t. So, a robot’s sophistication should really be measured against the tasks it’s been designed to perform.