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August 2000

Honda Demonstrates P3, New Humanoid Robot

Honda Motor Co. recently unveiled the prototype Humanoid Robot P3 at the Science Museum, Tokyo. The P3 is the latest version of the two-legged robots the automaker has been developing since 1986.

A two-legged robot is said to be very difficult to develop as it involves an array of high technologies, such as sensor technology to maintain stable walking. But Honda has been focusing on the two-legged mobility technology because it wants a humanoid robot to be able to move through furniture-equipped rooms and go up and down stairs so people can use it in their daily lives.

Honda's initial efforts at making a two-legged robot resulted in the E2 model, developed after an analysis of an ostrich's movements. It was 132 cm (4.3 ft) tall and weighed 67.7 kg (149.2 lb). But the head was disproportionately big, and the E2 fell over easily, unable to balance the body section's right and left sides well. After a number of improvements, Honda came up with humanoid-type robots with synchronized arm and leg movements--the P1, the P2, and now the P3.

The P3 can walk freely on its own two legs. It is 160 cm (5.25 ft) tall, weighs 130 kg (286.6 lb), and comes very close to looking like a human adult. Without a battery, the weight goes down to just 100 kg (220.4 lb). The P3 can walk at a speed of 2 km (1.24 miles) per hour and go up and down stairs around 20 cm (8 in) high without trouble.

After seeing the P3 at the Science Museum, Tokyo, second-grader Masato Hattori drew a picture of his dream robot. "This is my favorite robot, though I don't have a name for it yet," Masato said. His friend, Takashi Koyama, showed his dragon-type robot in his drawing. "I could ride on this one when I am going to be late for school," he said, excitedly.

The P3 demonstrated its walking ability at Honda's Welcome Plaza Aoyama in Tokyo on July 1-2. The robot stood up when told to do so by the emcee and climbed the steps to stand on top of the stage. The P3 then ran down the steps, walked to the emcee, and shook her hand. The robot waved to the crowd around it, held up its arms in celebration, and then took a bow to exit from the stage.

Photos: The new robot performed well in front of the excited crowd.