Human gestures perplex Asimo, Honda museum robot guide

Asimo in action Asimo is reported to have had problems identifying arm gestures

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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 the University of the West of England, 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."

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