It looks like President Barack Obama is courting the robot vote after playing some soccer with Honda’s Asimo.
Yes, Asimo (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) has grown up since it was first unveiled 14 years ago as an awkward, stumbling toddler. In its early adolescent years, Honda engineers gave it some advanced motor skills, allowing it to serve breakfast and not slam into people in the halls.
But Asimo had bigger dreams than working as a slow but competent waiter in a robot café. Now, as a teenager, it has finally become a soccer star — kicking the ball around with the president of the United States, no less.
President Obama was at the Miraikan science museum in Tokyo on Thursday to talk about the importance of science and technology to both countries and to push for increased student exchanges.
The president briefly conversed with Asimo, bowed politely and then watched as the robot gave a soccer ball a solid kick. Obama, perhaps in preparation for his post-presidential futbol career, stopped the ball with his foot.
Afterwards, he gave Asimo a backhanded compliment in front of about 30 students, which is fine, because robots don’t have feelings.
"I have to say that the robots were a little scary, they were too lifelike," he said. "They were amazing."
First published April 24 2014, 6:59 AM
Keith Wagstaff is a contributing writer at NBC News. He covers technology, reporting on Internet security, mobile technology and more. He joined NBC News from The Week, where he was a staff writer covering politics. Prior to his work at The Week, he was a technology writer at TIME.
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He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.