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Honda’s new disaster robot walks like a gorilla, but could save your life

disaster robot

Honda’s Asimo robot was one of the first really lifelike humanoid bots to capture the public’s attention. Looking like a little mechanical astronaut, it’s capable of some pretty impressive movement, but it’s not exactly something you’d want searching for you in a disaster scenario. For that, you’d be much better of with Honda R&D’s new disaster response bot, which it just showcased for the first time after years of development.

The robot, named E2-DR, was first conceptualized in an R&D paper published by Honda back in 2015. It’s an incredibly capable robot that is designed as a stand-in for rescuers in situations where sending humans in is a no-go, such as a nuclear meltdown like the still-recent Fukushima disaster.

Weighing in at nearly 190lbs and standing just over five feet, five inches tall, E2-DR can adapt to scale many different types of terrain and obstacles. It can walk (obviously), crawl, climb ladders, navigate steps and traverse uneven platforms, and even stand perfectly upright, rotating its feet to either side to slip through tight gaps.

The bot’s head is absolutely packed with sensors, including infrared projectors and a trio of cameras with LED lighting. All that hardware is powered by an onboard Intel Core-i7, discrete GPU and custom cooling system.

At the moment, the robot isn’t quite ready to send into the field, as Honda still has lots of things it wants to add, test, and experiment with. The next phase of development will involve teaching the robot how to handle certain environmental threats, such as impacts and collisions.