THINKING, EMOTION, AND SELF-AWARENESS
which remains among the best. It displays a high level of kinesthetic intelligence. It can keep its balance as it walks on level ground or on a slope, and up and down steps. It can also balance on one leg, turn corners snappily, and walk backward.
Despite ASIMO’s long lineage, though, there is plenty of room for improvement.At ROBODEX 2003, an older model striding along confidently at 1 kilometer per hour (0.6 miles per hour) was out- paced by a newer model that walked faster though less smoothly.With its flexible physical platform that boasts many degrees of freedom, and its humanoid bodily configuration, ASIMO is capable of even more. Honda states that its long-term goal is to make robots that “can be helpful to humans as well as be of practical use in society.”At a height of 1.2 meters (48 inches), ASIMO can interact eye to eye with a person in a wheelchair or sitting up in bed, or with someone sitting at a desk. And with its childlike size, and its back-mounted computer that makes it resemble a student marching off to school with a back- pack,ASIMO is quite the opposite of intimidating—it is endearing.
To extend its ability to deal with people, ASIMO’s kinesthetic intelligence has grown, and new communicative—if not linguistic— abilities have been added. Although ASIMO does not yet speak very well, it can listen, react with its body, and read human body language. Call it by name, and it turns its head toward you. It can wave hello, and safely carry out the social gesture of shaking hands with a person. It comes to a halt when it sees a hand held upright, traffic-cop style, understands that a pointing human hand is a directive to go to the indicated location and wait, and recognizes a goodbye wave. Capabili- ties to identify faces and plot walking routes—that is, elements of interpersonal and spatial intelligence—have been added, and ASIMO can also carry objects in its hands. These capacities, integrated in a single robot, permit ASIMO to act as a receptionist that can greet and recognize visitors and guide them to a specified location.
The initial goal in developing ASIMO was to produce a walking robot; the other abilities were added later. In contrast, the robot Kis- met was built to display what its maker calls social intelligence, or in Gardner’s framework, interpersonal intelligence. Cynthia Breazeal,