P2, an embryonic universal robot
Not a man in a spacesuit, but a self-contained research robot developed over a decade by a group of thirty engineers at Honda Motors of Japan, perhaps as a hedge against future reverses in the automobile market. The ``backpack'' contains power and computing. The machine has fully functional arms and camera eyes, and can find stairs and move objects. Its most advanced skill, so far, is walking, on flat and sloped ground, and up and down stairs. It is as humanlike in its motion as in its appearance. If pushed, it shifts its posture or begins to walk to keep equilibrium. It stands 180 cm tall and weighs 210 kilograms. At several million dollars, with a 15-minute battery lifetime, it is too expensive and power-consumptive to be practical, but its development continues and it is surely a precursor of future universal robots. A slightly smaller successor, the P3, with a 25-minute battery life, is probably the most advanced self-contained robot today.
Foreground courtesy of Honda Motors Corp. Background photo by Ella Moravec.