Honda’s new robot prototype could help mitigate future disasters

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Honda has a new bipedal robot, which isn’t perhaps as charismatic as Asimo, but which could be a lot more useful. The robot is a disaster relief model, dubbed E2-DR (very Star Wars) which has flexible, articulating joints, a waterproof design and a 2km/h walking rate. The robot can climb ladders, crawl over debris, work in extreme temperatures and has a range of sensors that let it see in almost any lighting conditions – including through depth sensing cameras embedded into its hands.

E2-DR is also designed to work with wireless accessories that can give it various additional capabilities based on the needs of the situation – these could include dexterous appendages for gripping objects or manipulating controls, for instance. The robot stands at 5’5″ and weighs only 187 lbs, a relatively light weight for a bot this size. Plus, it’s only 9.8-inches thick at its thickest point, which allows it to crawl into tight spaces.

The robot also has a 1,000 Wh battery on board which can allow it to operate for up to an hour and a half, which should give it an edge when dealing with more complex scenarios. And its able to bend at the knees, and at the waist, giving it crouch capabilities and a four-legged walking stance when it needs to tackle particularly tricky terrain.

This is still very much a prototype, so it won’t be rescuing anyone anytime soon. But it’s a start, and it’s a working prototype with a lot of potential for future commercial applications.