Human gestures perplex Asimo, Honda museum robot guide

Honda's popular robot Asimo faced
problems with gesture recognition on
its first day as a museum guide at the
Miraikan science museum in Tokyo.
The machine struggled to differentiate
between museum-goers raising their
hands to ask a question and raising their
hands to take photos, Associated Press
reported.
It is "working" as a tour guide at the
museum for the next four weeks as a
trial.
Asimo cannot respond to voice
commands.
The robot is instead designed to answer
100 questions selected via touchscreen
from a written panel.
But during a demonstration it froze and
asked: "Who wants to ask Asimo a
question?" repeatedly when people
pointed their cameras at it.
"Right now, it can recognize a child
waving to it, but it's not able to
comprehend the meaning of the waving,"
said Honda robotics technology specialist
Satoshi Shigemi.
'Not able to comprehend'
Asimo has been in development since
1996.
Speaking to the BBC last year, Prof Chris
Melhuish, director of the British Robotics
Laboratory at Bristol University, said that
interaction with humans was the next big
step for robotics.
"The key thing, and it's what we're
working on at the moment, is safe
human-robot interaction," he said.
"That's not just making the robot
compliant, it's making it have advanced
social intelligence. If a robot is handing
you something hot or sharp, for
example, it needs to know whether it has
your attention."
Honda's head of robotics, Satoshi
Shigemi, told the AP news agency: "Right
now, it can recognise a child waving to
it, but it's not able to comprehend the
meaning of the waving."