Robot Development History
Start of Robot Development Modeled on Humans
In studying the fundamental principles of bipedal locomotion, Honda researched and observed all forms of walking, performed numerous experiments, and collected an immense amount of data.
At E0, a robot that walks by putting one leg before the other was successfully achieved.
But it took nearly five seconds between steps and could only do slow walking in a straight line.
Building Human-like, Fast Walking Technology
To achieve fast walking, Honda thoroughly researched and analyzed human walking. Animal and other forms of walking were also studied in addition to human walking, and the movement and location of the joints needed for walking were researched as well. At E2, the first robot that could do fast walking was created, reaching a speed of 1.2 km/h.
Early prototype of the later models walked at static pace of 0.25km/h with a certain distinction of movement between the two legs.
First dynamic movement at 1.2km/h mimicking the human walk.
Thigh-like legs walked at the normal human speed of 3km/h.
Achieving Two-legged Walking through Technology to Achieve Stable Walking
Honda conducted research on the technology to achieve stable walking and successfully developed three posture control technologies.
Knee length was increased to 40cm to simulate the quick human step speed of 4.7km/h.
First autonomous locomotion model had a large head cover.
Autonomous control of balancing when going up and down the stairs or slopes or stepping over an obstacle.
Evolving to a Humanoid Robot that Combines and Upper Body with Legs
Studies were carried out to determine what a humanoid robot should be like to function properly in society and in a human living environment. A prototype model of near-human size was completed.
First prototype of a man-like model with upper limbs and the body.
First humanoid stunned the public with realistic movement.
Evolution in size and weight marked this fun humanoid.
ASIMO is Born
An Experimental Model of a Walking Assist Device was Showcased.
Applying cooperative control based on the information obtained from hip angle sensors, the motors provide optimal assistance based on a command from the control CPU. With this assist, the user’s stride will be lengthened compared to the user’s normal stride without the device and therefore the ease of walking is achieved.
The compact design of the device was achieved with flat brushless motors and a control system developed by Honda. In addition, a simple design to be worn with a belt around the hip and thigh was employed to help achieve overall weight as light as approximately 2.8kg. As a result, the device reduces the user’s load and can be fit to different body shapes.
Experimental Walking Assist Device with Bodyweight Support System was Unveiled.
The new walking assist device with the bodyweight support system reduces the load on leg muscles and joints (in the hip, knees, and ankles) by supporting a portion of the person's bodyweight.
The device has a simple structure consisting of seat, frame, and shoes, and the user can put it on by simply wearing the shoes and lifting the seat into position.
Moreover, a mechanism that directs the assisting force toward the user's center of gravity and the ability to control the assist force in concert with the movement of the legs – both unique Honda innovations – make it possible for the device to provide natural assistance in various postures and motions.
U3-X was Introduced.
Key features of U3-X
<Free movement just as in human walking>
- 1.Device control featuring application of balance control technology cultivated through ASIMO research:
The incline sensor detects the incline of the device based on the weight shift of the rider and determines the rider's intention in terms of the direction and speed. Based on the data, precise control is applied to return the device to an upright position, which achieves smooth and agile movements and simple operation by weight shift only.
- 2.HOT Drive System (Omni-directional driving wheel system):
Honda developed the world's first wheel structure which enables movement in all directions including forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally. Multiple small-diameter motor-controlled wheels were connected in-line to form one large-diameter wheel. By moving the large-diameter wheel, the device moves forward and backward, and by moving small-diameter wheels, the device moves side-to-side. By combining these movements the device moves diagonally.
<Compact size which fit between the user's legs>
- 3.Compact and innovative package:
The combination of the balance control technology and the HOT Drive System enabled the one-wheel style compact and innovative package of the device. In addition, the device adopts a light-weight monocoque body in which the foldable seat, footrests and body cover that also function as the frame are stored in the body of the device, achieving highly portable convenience.
|Length × Width × Height(mm)||315 × 160 × 650|
|Weight||less than 10kg|
|Battery Type||Lithium ion battery|
|Operation time (with fully charged battery)||1 hour|
Image of HOT Drive System
Image of U3-X usage
UNI-CUB Personal Mobility Device was Introduced.
Featuring a compact design and comfortable saddle, UNI-CUB offers the same freedom of movement in all directions that a person enjoys while walking.
Key features of UNI-CUB
<Maneuverability promotes compatibility with people in many environments>
- Omni-directional freedom of movement similar to human walking
UNI-CUB has a two-wheel configuration with a minimal wheelbase. The front wheel features the Honda Omni Traction Drive System that Honda first announced in 2009. The rear wheel moves laterally to facilitate turning. By leveraging the different rotational speeds of the front and rear wheel treads during lateral movements, UNI-CUB can move forwards and backwards, side-to-side and diagonally and also turn in place, making possible quick, nimble movement.
- Movement in harmony with other people
Honda's proprietary balance control technology makes it possible for the rider to freely control the wheels of the UNI-CUB, much as human beings maintain their balance. With a design that takes into consideration the rider's environment, this system allows the rider to maneuver while moving side by side with or holding hands with another person.
- Compact size for moving and climbing gradients in barrier-free indoor environments
Thanks to UNI-CUB's compact saddle-style packaging, the rider and vehicle together are about the same width as a person when walking. Optimized wheel design and high-precision drive/balance control enhance UNI-CUB's ability to climb gradients in barrier-free indoor environments.
<Ease of control promotes freedom of movement>
- Weight shift control combined with touch panel control
When the rider is using weight shift control, UNI-CUB's incline sensor detects the direction in which the rider is leaning, allowing UNI-CUB to calculate the direction and speed intended by the rider. And touch panel control via smartphone and other devices is another convenient control option.
|Size (L x W x H)||520 x 345 x 745 mm|
|Seat height adjustment range||745 – 825 mm|
|Battery type||Lithium-ion battery|
|Maximum speed||6 km/h|
|Application environment||Barrier-free indoor environments|
Seat with adjustable height
Seat height easily adjusted with level
High-Access Survey Robot was Developed.
Honda and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) jointly developed a remotely controlled survey robot that conducts on-site surveys on the first floor of a nuclear reactor building at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TEPCO) and help discern structures in high and narrow areas.
AIST developed the high-area accessible crawler work platform and Honda developed the survey-performing robot arm, which is installed on top of the platform.
In developing the survey-performing robot arm, Honda applied the following technologies which were developed originally for ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot:
- Technologies that enable 3D display of structures surrounding the subject of the survey using a 3D point cloud (a group of vertices in a coordinated system)
- A control system that enables simultaneous control of multiple joints
- Control technologies which enable the robot arm to absorb the impact when it makes physical contact with surrounding structures