Deftly opening a door, the Honda P3 walks its assigned path at the Honda Research Center, outside Tokyo, Japan. The product of a costly decade-long effort, the Honda robotic project was only released from its shroud of corporate secrecy in 1996. In a carefully choreographed performance, P3 walks a line, opens a door, turns a corner, and, after a safety chain is attached, climbs a flight of stairs. Despite its mechanical sophistication, it can't respond to its environment. If people were to step in its way, the burly robot would knock them down without noticing them. Ultimately, of course, Honda researchers hope to change that. But, in what seems an attempt to hedge the company's bet, P3 senior engineer Masato Hirose is also working on sending the robot to places where it cannot possibly injure anyone. From the book Robo sapiens: Evolution of a New Species, page 42.
- © 2000 Peter Menzel, www.menzelphoto.com, Robo Sapiens
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