Humanoid evolution | Front Porch | Indy Week
Pin It

Humanoid evolution 

"It's not going to hurt you," said a mother to her young daughter as they made their way toward the North Carolina School of Science and Math on a recent Saturday morning. They and I--and scores of other humans--had come to see a public demonstration of ASIMO, a robot designed by Honda, in the school's auditorium.

According to its creators, ASIMO is "the world's most advanced humanoid robot that is able to walk and move like a human." The notion of a robot demonstration in 2003 seemed so incredibly quaint that I couldn't resist the free invitation.

The last time I'd encountered a functional robot was during a field trip to a museum in Atlanta, circa 1983, with my third-grade science class. More recently I'd encountered two robots of dubious functionality at a junk store in Berlin, and I'd heard word of a clunky, old-school robot inhabiting a street-level window of a house in Baltimore.

After the audience had been thoroughly primed with upbeat dance music and video footage of yesteryear's "inferior" robots, ASIMO strutted nimbly (but slowly) onto the stage. The four-foot tall, 115-pound plastic-coated contraption looked more like a miniature astronaut than a traditional robot. ASIMO waved hello to everyone. Everyone waved hello to ASIMO. Some people cheered. Although this robot appeared totally harmless, I held out hope that it harbored laser beams in its eyes, capable of vaporizing certain audience members in my vicinity--namely those who had neglected to turn off their cell phones.

Soon enough, ASIMO demonstrated its bag of tricks, which included walking a figure eight, and ascending and descending a half-flight of stairs. These ambulatory feats took a full 17 years to perfect.

And then ASIMO exited the stage before its battery pack expired.

"One day," according to Honda, "ASIMO could be truly useful in helping people with important tasks, like assisting an elderly person, or getting medicine for someone confined to a bed or wheelchair."

One day, maybe. But what about the laser beams?

I left the auditorium feeling less than recharged myself, resolving to keep my eyes peeled for old-school robots the next time I'm in Baltimore.

Latest in Front Porch

More by Rusty Haynes

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Front Porch

  • One vote

    • Nov 12, 2014
  • Box of one

    Was I paying to be helped or to feel important, a bona fide expert on only myself?
    • Sep 24, 2014
  • The Old South (Hills)

    The Old South (Hills)

    • Sep 17, 2014
  • More »


Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Nobody will be surprised to learn that Hocutt never went to Nam. He was in the Navy but washed out …

by Jefflenter on Raleigh bad boy no more (Front Porch)

I see his concern. Yes, it was a well written story and showed his caring side for sure. But not …

by Linda Bates Terrell on Motorcycle men (Front Porch)

Follow-up to my "nervous mom" comment. The last coupe of weeks we have been in many situations with individuals that …

by paulapowers on Governor's School blues (Front Porch)

Comments

'Anna Lee' is a truly beautiful song, Ms Dossett. And I love Levon Helm's rendition. You are blessed with a …

by Byron Miller on A song for Levon (Front Porch)

Just now seeing this....Liz and I were super close friends in the early 80s. She was so special. I had …

by RoBert 1 on In memoriam: Liz Holm, 1959–2013 (Front Porch)

Most Read

  1. Dot-con (Peripheral Visions)
  2. Smug Revisionism (Letters to the Editor)

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation