Honda has been developing Asimo to one day be useful for people and help enrich their daily lives.

The company said Asimo has advanced from an automatic machine, where it could carry out a specific set of tasks to an autonomous machine, where it now can make decisions based on its surroundings. For example it can detect obstacles using multiple sensors and avoid them without being told to do so by an operator. The robot can also recognize a faceand a voice and respond to multiple people who are speaking simultaneously: a task difficult for even humans.

Asimo’s legs have been strengthened and its range of movement extended. Those improvements allow the robot to walk over uneven surfaces for example, or run backwards or hop on one leg.

It’s hands have embedded tactile sensors in both the fingers and the palms and it can complete tasks that require a high level of dexterity like holding a paper cup without crushing it, according to Honda.

While more technology has been packed into this iteration of the robot, Asimo managed to slim down about 6 kilograms, weighing in at about 48 kg. It can run at 9 km/hr, which is 3 km/hr faster than its predecessor.

Asimo has been under development for about 11 years and has accomplished a number of tasks which include the mundane like delivering drinks and moving office supplies to the more artsy like conducting an orchestra.

Asimo likely won’t be making its way into homes around the world anytime soon, but this latest version brings that reality closer.

Nick Barber, IDG News Service.