Honda debuts their first practical robot, the Miimo – Where AI meets the Real World
Rarely do I come across a product that draws my attention as this one does. Dubbed the Miimo, it’s Asimo’s friend but for trimming the lawn. More significantly, it’s Honda’s first Practical Robot. So says their Press Release, quote: “Honda Miimo is the first commercial robotic product manufactured by the company for public use–representing its first step towards providing customers with robotic solutions to improve quality of life at home”.
The Miimo comes in two (2) flavours, Model 300 and Model 500. Powered by Lithium Ion batteries, Green activists should be attracted to the fact that it produces no CO2 emissions and scurries back to its charging dock when it’s low on power. It navigates around the yard by using an array of sensors that detect a wire buried in the yard which marks the territory within which it should stay, the only drawback with this design. The Model 500 is designed to do a maximum area of 3,000 square meters (32,000 square feet), which means a lot of wire to be buried!
Programmed to trim the lawn several times a week, it trims only 3 millimeters (0.12 inch) of Grass, effectively fine dust particulate that is easily mulch for the lawn. Whether in a regular pattern of in a random swirl, it lazily maintains the grass, putting priority on trimming higher areas of grass.
Its neat safety features are also impressive. When it detects an obstacle, it shies away to cut grass elsewhere that’s’ uneven. It shuts off when picked up and requires the entry of a PIN (Personal Identification Number) to turn it on back again, and only when it’s on the ground. Its blades are flexible, thus guaranteed not to shatter should they encounter a hard undetectable obstacle, like a hidden bush stalk or a hardy weed.
Apparently the need for a practical product to justify their robotics program and demonstrate that they can make money like the iRobot Rhoomba Vacuum Cleaner may have prompted Honda to debut this clever design. A more obvious reason may be the fact that the Japanese had to borrow robots from American company iRobot to do the inspections of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (Dai-ichi simply means “number 1″) damaged during the Friday March 11th 2011AD Earthquake and Tsunami as noted in Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown is the Asian Tiger Chernobyl and Japan Nuclear Disaster – Implications for Jamaica and the Consumer Electronics World.
The Japanese are acutely aware that as aFirst Worldcountry it looks a bit odd that as the creators of Anime Cartoons featuring Robots such as Astro, Voltron and even Gundam Wing and marvels such as Asimo, they had to run to the Americans to borrow robots to assist with their own Nuclear disaster.
Thus Honda’s Robotics Division certainly has a lot of catching up to do to achieve the commercial success of iRobot. iRobot products demonstrate that there is money to be made from robotics, as iRobot. This may be but the beginning for Honda. I expect to see more products from the Japanese Auto Maker more famous for its Cars than Robotics! An Automated self-driving Car perhaps!?
As for the Robotic Goat named Miimo, its two flavours, Model 300 and Model 500 will first debut in the EU (European Union) in the First Quarter of 2013AD at a price of around EU 2,100 (US$2,600) and EU 2,500 (US$3,000) for the Model 300 and Model 500 respectively. So get ready to purchase this tech toy with your Scotia VISA Debit Card when it makes landfall in the US of A, most likely in the Fourth Quarter of 2013AD, when AI meets the Real World!