By Lance Ulanoff  |  Posted 2007-01-11 Print this article Print

Reporter's Notebook: The updated Honda humanoid robot makes a stunning North American debut in Vegas. (

LAS VEGAS—I have seen the future and its running away from me…and to me…and sometimes in circles around me. Im talking about Hondas updated ASIMO humanoid robot, which made its North American debut during a packed press conference on the CES 2007 show floor.

Roughly the size of a four-foot-tall child, the all white robot has undergone a major overhaul. Jeffrey Smith Assistant Vice President North American Honda Group called it "a full model change." Much of the work was done to enable ASIMOs newest and most stunning trick—running. ASIMO still does all the things he did when we last saw him in person, but now the motions are far smoother.
In fact, ASIMO seems more sure of himself, though there were reports that he stumbled during a later demonstration. Even so, seeing ASIMO run transforms him from a curiosity into something out of science fiction.
Running at 6 kilometers an hour, ASIMO doesnt hesitate or wobble in straight runs and small circles. More remarkable, ASIMO, with his arms pumping and head looking straight ahead, gathers enough speed and exerts enough control for both feet to leave the floor for 0.8 seconds during his trot. If you think about what it feels like when go for a run, youll realize that ASIMOs run is almost uncannily human (you can see a video here). During the press conference, ASIMOs running ability was met with a stunned silence—no longer were we just watching a man-made object, ASIMO looked like a little boy running. With this kind of mobility and elegance of motion, its almost possible to believe that we will have robots in our homes and society "running errands" for us in our lifetime.

ASIMOs eventual role as a home care giver is no longer as hard to imagine, yet many have often wondered why Honda—primarily known as a car manufacturer—is taking the lead on this. Smith put it simply, "If you look at Honda as a mobility company, then you understand how ASIMO fits." He added that ASIMO will become an extension of people who need "mobile" assistance.

To make ASIMO run Honda had to redesign his body, changing out motors to ones that could handle the stress and increased rotational needs of this, for a robot, high-speed gait. Since no one built motors that were up to the task, Honda designed its own. They also added new ultrasonic sensors for identifying obstacles and added infrared lasers—again, Honda developed the technology on its own. Read the full story on See ASIMO Run Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on mobile and wireless computing.
Lance Ulanoff is Editor in Chief and VP of Content for PC Magazine Network, and brings with him over 20 years journalism experience, the last 16 of which he has spent in the computer technology publishing industry.

He began his career as a weekly newspaper reporter before joining a national trade publication, traveling the country covering product distribution and data processing issues. In 1991 he joined PC Magazine where he spent five years writing and managing feature stories and reviews, covering a wide range of topics, including books and diverse technologies such as graphics hardware and software, office applications, operating systems and, tech news. He left as a senior associate editor in 1996 to enter the online arena as online editor at HomePC magazine, a popular consumer computing publication. While there, Ulanoff launched, and and wrote about Web sites and Web-site building.

In 1998 he joined Windows Magazine as the senior editor for online, spearheading the popular magazine's Web site, which drew some 6 million page views per month. He also wrote numerous product reviews and features covering all aspects of the computing world. During his tenure, won the Computer Press Association's prestigious runner-up prize for Best Overall Website.

In August 1999, Ulanoff briefly left publishing to join as producer for the Computing and Consumer Electronics channels and then was promoted to the site's senior director for content. He returned to PC Magazine in November 2000 and relaunched in July 2001. The new was named runner-up for Best Web Sites at the American Business Media's Annual Neal Awards in March 2002 and won a Best Web Site Award from the ASBPE in 2004. Under his direction, regularly generated more than 25 million page views a month and reached nearly 5 million monthly unique visitors in 2005.

For the last year and a half, Ulanoff has served as Editor, Reviews, PC Magazine. In that role he has overseen all product and review coverage for PC Magazine and, as well as managed PC Labs. He also writes a popular weekly technology column for and his column also appears in PC Magazine.

Recognized as an expert in the technology arena, Lance makes frequent appearances on local, national and international news programs including New York's Eyewitness News, NewsChannel 4, CNN, CNN HN, CNBC, MSNBC, Good Morning America Weekend Edition, and BBC, as well as being a regular guest on FoxNews' Studio B with Shepard Smith. He has also offered commentary on National Public Radio and been interviewed by radio stations around the country. Lance has been an invited guest speaker at numerous technology conferences including Digital Life, RoboBusiness, RoboNexus, Business Foresight and Digital Media Wire's Games and Mobile Forum.

Lance also serves as co-host of PC Magazine's weekly podcast, PCMag Radio.


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