Almost exactly two years ago I wrote about the first version of Sony's Asimo, here on this Blog in a post entitled "Are We Losing the Robot Race?" With the recent unveiling of Asimo 2.0 one can only conclude that the answer is a loud YES... The movies of Asimo in motion are astonishing:
And Honda is hard at work on Asimo 3.0
I might as well just repeat myself from 2 years ago and then start thinking about what I can do to change the situation...
Many have argued that humanoid shaped robots are not particularly useful by comparison to industrial robots where most US researchers have focused. Solving the complicated problems of making a machine move like a human being doesn't help with any of the heavy industrial problems for which most robots are utilized.
This narrow view of robots ignores the basic premise that Honda and Sony are successfully focused on -- that everything in our world is designed to accomodate a human frame and human hands. If robots are going to play a useful role in an everyday human world, they will have to move and look something like human beings.
Robot manufacturing will be one of the 21st centuries biggest industries. As the world's largest economy we ignore this market at our own peril.