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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: Say goodbye to Asimo. Honda’s most famous robot is retiring

honda asimo
Paul Vernon/AP
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FR66830 AP
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HONDA - ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) performs during a demonstration at Nationwide Children's Hospital on Tuesday, June 20, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (Paul Vernon/AP Images for Honda)

This week marks the end of an era in corporate Japan. There’s a noteworthy retirement coming at a Japanese automaker — ending a career that has had an impact around the world.

One of the world’s most famous robots is unplugging from work life.

“Asimo” has been a part of Honda’s corporate team for more than 20 years.

The name is an acronym for “Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility” — the 10th generation of a development program Honda started back in the mid-1980s.

One goal was to produce a two-legged humanoid robot that could walk.

Asimo wound up doing a lot more than that — walking, running, dancing, hopping on one leg, even ringing the opening bell to mark the 25th anniversary of Honda’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Asimo also kicked a soccer ball with President Obama during a presidential visit to Japan in 2014.

The robot stands a little more than 4 feet tall. It looks like it’s wearing a spacesuit and a helmet, with a small backpack. The original idea was to look like the animated robot “Astro Boy.”

Honda says the robot has been popular with fans around the world, especially children.

But its rechargeable lithium-ion battery only lasts for about an hour and these days Honda’s engineering team spends more time on artificial intelligence — and more practical applications of robotics.

Even so, Honda says it will continue sales of Asimo souvenirs to keep the character active.

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