Japanese are aghast at how pathetic their nation’s robotic poster-child ASIMO is compared to America’s new bipedal military prototype PETMAN.
For those not yet familiar with PETMAN, Boston Dynamics’ famed bipedal testbot, the video below shows how far science can progress if only a nation has the foresight to run the world’s largest weapons development programme:
The video caused quite a stir the world over, and in Japan a variety of unfavourable comparisons to Honda’s apparently pointless eternal prototype android Asimo were made, although the fact most of the videos were 10 years old spared it too much criticism.
“This thing makes Asimo look like a toy.”
“Compare to Asimo. This is real bipedal locomotion. Over 5 times faster, capable of running. In ten years it will be complete. The country they send this machine into will be doomed.”
“It still has wires on it!”
“Those are just to prevent damage if it falls over in a test?”
“It can do push-ups! It’s hardening its body!”
“It is a lot less creepy than I thought it would be.”
“Asimo is just a bunch of programmed tricks for entertainment. The possibilities of something like this, based on actual reflexes, are so much greater.”
“Japan is only developing them for industrial or welfare use. This is clearly military. And their government is clearly pouring huge amounts of money into it, so it’s no surprise development proceeded so quickly.”
“I thought they stopped working on Asimo in 2007 in any case.”
“Machines built for war really exude bloodlust don’t they?”
“I’m a little sad that Japan has been so badly beaten in a field it is supposedly dominant.”
“Meanwhile, Japan is busily making fembots.”
“In 10 years these will be maidbots and osanajimibots. You’ve won!”
There is probably something to the realisation that human expenditure on sex dwarfs expenditure on military activity (and, indeed, just about everything else), and that most men could probably be persuaded to take out a mortgage several times that on their house in order to own a robotic sex slave.
However, with impeccably poor timing, Honda has decided to unveil a demo of the latest version of Asimo – perhaps in a futile effort to upstage PETMAN:
This is apparently the first publicised update in 4 years, so the timing is certainly suspicious.
In an effort to produce something useful, Honda has also been flaunting a boring robotic arm it says it developed for use cleaning up the nation’s stricken reactors (embarrassingly, Japan had no robots capable of such work and at one point ended up using American packbots).
However, given that Tepco has been able to freely and cheaply sub-sub-sub-contract the poor and destitute to work amidst the radioactive remains of the prefecture it ruined by the simple expedient of sacking them after a day’s rad exposure, it seems this may be a hard sell.
Unfortunately for Honda, few discussions of Asimo manage to get far without the embarrassing Asimo tumble video being trotted out:
Compare to the famous videos of Boston Dynamics’ military robo-packdog BigDog smugly prancing around in the mud and being mercilessly kicked, abuse it is hard to imagine Asimo surviving intact:
Even Asimo’s latest iteration is proving embarrassing to the Japanese, supposedly the world-leaders in robotics:
“Maybe now it can manage a flight of stairs.”
“It’s good, but if they don’t actually work out a way of selling this they are going to be overtake.”
“Stop messing around and make a useful robot already!”
“It can probably play DDR, but without mobility and judgement it’s useless.”
“After the quake, the illusion that Japan is some kind of robot heaven was totally shattered.”
“What ever happened to Aibo?”
“It’s a waste of time if they can’t put this to military use. Just a hobby, not something a corporation should wasting its time on. They should hurry up and sell it to the Yanks whilst it’s still worth something.”
“I feel sorry for the person inside.”
“They’ve been blown away by Boston Dynamics so now they are trying to save face by loading it with junk features like sign language, aren’t they?”
“Are you PETMAN lovers trolling? The technology is on totally different levels, Asimo’s is 20 years old.”
“It would be perfect if they could actually load an AI onto it.”
“Hurry up with the sex robot.”
“These two robots have totally different development objectives.
People say Asimo is nothing like a human, but it’s actually really close. Its way of walking is said to be close to how a person walks when they are trying to avoid spilling an unsteady cup of water.
If you were serving a table, pushing a wagon or leading a child or old person by the hand, that’s how you’d need to make a robot walk.
PETMAN isn’t designed with that in mind at all at the moment. Its designed to make fast and forceful progress through the rough outdoors.
That’s why it’s meaningless to compare the two.”
“Honestly, I think Honda has got carried away with the romance of the thing.”
“So America makes military robots. Japan’s making them for… why? Communication? Nursing? To be friends? I’m not sure if this is more like Honda or Japan.”
“Its movements are quite intricate though. It’s impressive.”
“It’s getting worse and worse. It’s just repeating preprogrammed motions like some stupid Aibo.”
“Asimo is really depressing. You can see it is at its limits, whereas PETMAN is just getting started.”
“You wouldn’t send something like this to a war or disaster zone. But then, you wouldn’t use a bipedal design in those environments in the first place.”
“It is just an advertising billboard for Honda. Of course it’s useless.”