Honda shows smarter robot, helps in nuclear crisis

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Other manufacturers are also developing robots, eager to cash in on the expected needs of Japan’s rapidly aging population.

Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s top automaker which makes the Prius hybrid and Lexus luxury models, is among those to have jumped on the robotics bandwagon.

In the past, it has shown robots that can play the violin and talk like receptionists. Last week, it showed a computerized device that latches on to the body to help old or sick people walk and keep balance.

Honda, which makes the Odyssey minivan and Accord sedan, has developed similar brace-like gadgets to help people get about.

Neither the Toyota nor Honda product is on sale yet.

Still, experts say such research is important to keep up.

“Maybe it can’t be put to use right away, but it is definitely a technology that we should keep working on to advance,” Hiroshi Kobayashi, a mechanical engineering professor at Tokyo University of Science, said of the new Asimo.

“It is common for what we achieve in research to turn out later to lead to many products,” said Kobayashi, who has developed experimental robots.

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at http://twitter.com/yurikageyama

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