As Honda's ASIMO robot emerged waving from behind a sliding door, an audible gasp of surprise and excitement arose from the packed room of middle school students who had gathered at Honda Silicon Valley Lab for a special demonstration. While Honda's long-term plans for ASIMO are focused on helping humans with daily tasks, in the near-term Honda is hoping that ASIMO can inspire young people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math, collectively referred to as STEM. Watch the video of ASIMO's visit to Silicon Valley.
During the visit to Honda in Silicon Valley, Honda engineers shared with students their personal experiences and reasons for pursuing a STEM-related career. The students – who are part of the City Year/San Jose program, a learning and enrichment initiative supported by Honda – also watched a demonstration of Honda Robotics technologies, including ASIMO and UNI-CUB, the Honda personal mobility device. The demonstrations connected the fundamental science and math concepts students are currently learning to Honda's vision for the future of mobility.
"Highlighting real-world applications of Honda Robotics technologies shows students the limitless possibilities of innovation, and what's possible by dreaming big," said Erik Wedin, manager, Corporate Relations, American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "For example, ASIMO currently operates in indoor environments, but one of these students may someday find a way to change that."
ASIMO is a small, lightweight humanoid robot designed to operate fluidly in a real world environment, and is capable of walking, running, climbing and descending stairs, avoiding objects, and recognizing human faces, among other things. The ASIMO demonstration included several examples of its balance and precision, including kicking a soccer ball, climbing stairs and dancing. Rounding out their experience, students rode Honda's personal mobility device, UNI-CUB, which uses balancing technology first developed for ASIMO and enables the seated rider to control speed, move in any direction and stop, all by simply shifting body weight.
Promoting STEM Education with Honda Robotics
Understanding that today's youth will help solve tomorrow's challenges, Honda encourages STEM education through a variety of initiatives. For more than a decade, Honda's ASIMO has traveled around the world providing unique access for students to experience a humanoid robot up close and inspire interests in robotics and science studies. Honda provides grants to STEM learning organizations through the American Honda Foundation.