Honda has unveiled E2-DR, a functioning prototype bipedal robot that is designed for disaster relief efforts, according to a report in IEEE Spectrum.
The 5'5" tall robot, unveiled at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Vancouver, Canada, is a flexible and fully-articulated structure which can walk, move over pipes, climb stairs and ladders, and crawl over scattered debris.
It weighs around 85kg and walks at 4kmph (quadrupedal walking at 2.3kmph), but can bear harsh conditions thanks to dust and splash proofing. A plethora of sensors and cameras also allow it to 'see' in differently-lit environments.
Unlike other bots, the E2-DR can walk through 26 mm/hour of rain for 20 minutes and can operate in temperatures ranging from -10 to 40 degrees Celsius.
Honda has powered its robot with a 1,000Wh lithium-ion battery – which gives it the ability to walk for a little over an hour – and an Intel Core i7 processor. The internal cooling system in the machine contributes by dealing with overheating on the go.
It is also worth noting that Honda has put in a lot of effort to keep the overall size and mass of the machine as low as possible. The company has replaced the standard communication cables connecting the machine with eight times smaller optical fibers, which are just 0.5mm in diameter.
The torso of this bot rotates at 180 degrees, while its hands, equipped with cameras and 3D sensors, are just meant for gripping structures and tools, helping it move around.
Honda said special tools and wireless communication could help with manipulation tasks, instead of having dexterous hands.
The project is still at a nascent stage and it might take months, or even years, to see a fully-capable, working model in action.
Honda first detailed the project two years ago in an R&D paper, and the company now hopes to teach E2-DR how to handle collisions and also develop a system for "control of the robot for real usage".
Honda has not indicated when the final production version of this robot might be released.
Here's a video showing the E2-DR in action: