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I'm going to believe it when I see it, but that statement comming from Honda, I'm almost tempted to believe it. There is no mention of who or how it will be leased/sold to. I'm betting initially they will only offer it to fleets or government agencies. I'd buy one if I could (reasonably). They just need to have it a plug in with some plug in only range then hydrogen beyond that point.
 

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Have you seen the Honda jet?

If Honda wants to do it they will! The question is, does it make any sense? Honda built electric cars and four wheel steering sports cars. Those ideas just dried up.

Nevertheless, if it is going to happen you can almost bet the farm Honda will do it first.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
b1shmu63 said:
Have you seen the Honda jet?
That's nothing, have you seen Honda's humanoid robot?

http://world.honda.com/HDTV/ASIMO/

Several high up members of management at Honda have been stating (quite seriously it seems!) for some time that the market for humanoid robots will soon be worth more money than the entire global car market - hence the billions they've sunk into this project!
 

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Asimo has been around for quite a while. Nothing really new.

As far as the "4-Wheel Steering sportscars" (and saloons; Accord) and "Electric Cars" go:
Dead-ends maybe, but at least Honda bothered GOING THERE in the first place !!! 8)
 

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Bomb removal, Atomic disater cleanup, space exploration, mining disaster recovery, eliminating the wheel chair.

Granted the technology is not there yet, but whenever. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #8
james said:
Market for humanoid robots? What exactly can you do with a humanoid robot
Both Honda and Toyota are building them first to be "partner robots", mainly to help around the house and care for elderly people (of which Japan is soon to have an very large number of). For this same reason, a rapidly ageing population, the Japanese are also concerned that there won't be enough young people working to support the millions of retired. Hence the other major aspect is cheap labour.

The ONLY two things holding back ASIMO etc are software and Moore's law. And let's face it, Moore's law isn't best known for hanging about....
 

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"Bomb removal, Atomic disater cleanup, space exploration, mining disaster recovery..."

All of which are being done by specialized robots, or teleoperated machines. (The distinction isn't always clear - is a Mars rover a robot?) Those robots have forms that fit their functions far better than a humanoid form would. I'd argue that for almost any purpose, other than variations on the sex toy theme, a non-humaniod form would be better suited to the job.

"...eliminating the wheel chair"

This one I don't understand. Are you perhaps thinking of a powered exoskeleton? But that would not be any kind of robot.

"Both Honda and Toyota are building them first to be "partner robots"...

See? Sex toys, basically :)

"...the other major aspect is cheap labour."

It's far cheaper to just automate the job in the first place. (Or export it to China...) Using humanoid robots instead? Well, the closest analogy I can think of is if the first automobile makers had instead produced mechanical horses that you hitched to your existing buggy. Sure, it could be done, but is it the most effective way?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
james said:
Are you perhaps thinking of a powered exoskeleton?
This is what Toyota had a couple of years ago, I've seen a much more advanced version (ie closer to production looking), but can't find the picture.



james said:
It's far cheaper to just automate the job in the first place. (Or export it to China...)
That's the problem, how will Japanese manufacturing compete with emerging economies with labour rates of 2 dollars per day? Answer, a 24-hour non-union robotic workforce working for the cost of the electricity it takes to run them (not much).
 

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"Answer, a 24-hour non-union robotic workforce..."

This is called automation, and it has been happening for decades. But forget the vision of shiny metallic humanoid robots working on a traditional assembly line. There is absolutely no reason for any of those factory robots in the workforce to be humanoid, and a lot of practical reasons for them not to be. Wheels, for instance, are a lot more efficient than legs for moving around on a smooth surface.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
james said:
Wheels, for instance, are a lot more efficient than legs for moving around on a smooth surface.
Toyota have a wheeled version of their partner robot for factory floors, but there is a very good reason why Toyota and Honda are otherwise making their robots human-like.

To automate a certain process you could create a machine just for the job, but that takes masses of cash and development time to create something bespoke for just that one task.

On the other hand, have a mass-produced generic robot capable of thousands of different tasks and the economies of scale kick in, meaning cheap production costs due to the volume, and vanishingly less development costs per unit. You don't go to Honda and ask for a car 4.378 m long and 2.381 m wide, for the express purpose of carrying an particular shaped parcel weighing 372 kg, you just take the nearest approximate unit capable of doing what you want for a fraction of the price.

So a generic robot platform is good, but why the humanoid shape? Simply because it's quite good at dealing with the environment that humans tend to live in. Legs are good for stairs and rough ground. Most tools have been designed to be used or moved by human hands. Why change the built environment and all the tools just for the robots? Not going to happen. Better just make the robots capable of working with what we have to work with already. When your loom worker, brick layer, shelf stacker etc retires, a cheap generic humanoid robot is exactly the right size and shape to take on that job and when that job is over the robot is not redundant (as a bespoke unit would be), but can be sold to the shop across the street to serve ice-creams.

Finally, a major reason must also be that they look friendlier too - Toyota/Honda et al realise there might be some resistance to having something resembling the Terminator in your house! :wink:
 

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I'm not real suprised at Honda's annoucement. When I bought mine almost 6 years ago they were saying that hybrids would be "state of the art" until about 2010 then fuel cell cars would take the lead.
 
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