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Toyota robot gets antsy, starts to run

Toyota recently unveiled an improved version of its Partner Robot that can run slightly faster than Honda's Asimo. It's the latest in their robot arms race.

And the robot arms race continues.

Toyota's robot has dropped fiddling and taken up running.
Toyota's robot has dropped fiddling and taken up running. Toyota Motor

Toyota has enhanced one of its Partner Robots to make it run at 7 km/hour, slightly faster than Honda's Asimo, which learned to run at 6 km/hour back in 2005.

Partner Robots are usually presented as mechatronic musicians, playing violins or trumpets. It seems the automaker is keen on matching Honda in the development of an all-purpose humanoid.

Japanese are keen to build next-generation service robots for their aging population amid the country's shrinking workforce.

The video shows an "experiment" in which the Toyota bot exhibits very robust balance control--it remains upright even when pushed back forcefully, recovering its balance easily while hopping from foot to foot like a boxer in the ring.

In the running experiment, the machine shows an exaggerated forward lean to compensate for forward motion. Asimo is more erect when running, as seen in this ad.

High-speed footage of the Toyota Partner Robot running shows both its feet off the ground at the same time for less than a second. Honda managed that four years ago, but it was building on 20 years of Asimo development.

Toyota's only been in the game since 2004.

May the best humanoid win.