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High-Tech Motivation: Humanoid Robot Inspires Students to Study Science

(ARA) - It walks, climbs stairs, and even dances the hula. “It” is the most advanced humanoid robot in the world. Named ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility), this compact robot is about the size of a fourth grader, but it represents big possibilities for the future of robotic technology.

Developed by Honda after 17 years of research, ASIMO can walk forward and backward, turn smoothly without pausing, climb stairs and maintain balance while walking on uneven slopes and surfaces. With its smooth moves, ASIMO can even disco dance with the best of them.

Created to resemble a human shape and operate in human environments, ASIMO has two arms and two hands, necessary to someday work in our world where we need to reach and grasp objects, switch lights on and off and open and close doors. ASIMO also can recognize the faces of a select number of individuals and respond to voice commands and hand signals.

ASIMO is being introduced to the public in an effort to educate kids and adults about humanoid robotics and motivate students to study sciences such as math, engineering, physics and computer science. Classroom materials for teachers and robotics-related educational resources for parents can be found at www.asimo.honda.com along with information and QuickTime movies about robotics.

“Kids who see ASIMO in person have been excited to learn about the science and technology involved in humanoid robotics,” said Jeffrey Smith, Leader of the ASIMO North American Project. “We look forward to visiting other cities across North America, watching that sense of discovery as students are inspired to follow their dreams.”

Students nationwide can participate in an essay contest that provides a chance for one school to win an exclusive visit from ASIMO in March of 2004. Each participating class or group of students will research the science and history of robotics and submit an essay on their school's vision of the role of humanoid robots in our society. The contest is open to all public and private elementary, middle, junior high and high schools in the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia.

Honda hopes that one day ASIMO may be able to assist elderly, disabled and other people in need with day-to-day activities. In the future, a robot like ASIMO could also possibly perform dangerous duties such as fighting fires and cleaning up hazardous wastes.

For now, this fascinating robot is primarily a learning tool, encouraging kids to imagine the future. For more information about ASIMO and the essay contest, visit www.asimo.honda.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content




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