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The following research on ASIMO is engaged by Honda Advanced Technology

Honda is generally associated as a company that produces cars and motorcycles. In a departure to traditional wheeled vehicles, Honda also pursuit in researching more radical mobility technology. The result is ASIMO, Honda’s Advanced Mobility Technology.

The concept behind Honda’s robot R&D was to create a viable mobility technology that allows robot to live with and help human kind. With two-legged walking capability, the robot would be free from purpose built roads and be able to maneuver with human. This includes circumventing objects, going up and down stairs, and walking on uneven roads. The ultimate objective is, of course, to allow the robot to live in a human home and not confined to purpose built environments.

Contrary to popular misconception, ASIMO is not a reference to popular science fiction writer and the inventor of the Three Laws of Robotics, Issac Asimov, but an acronym for “Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility”

Asimo's History
the whole lineup, from experimental models to the new ASIMO

The first version of ASIMO was unveiled in 2000 following a slew of experimental models developed by Honda started from the 1986. The first seven models (E0 to E6) were basically just walking legs, three other humanoid robots with upper limbs were developed from 1993 to 1997 before ASIMO was launched. Almost a quarter century of dedicated development.

The current version of ASIMO, first unveiled in 2005, has seen numerous improvement over the previous version. The robot can walk at a leisure speed of 2.7 km/hour, and for the first time, run at 6 km/hour. ASIMO can also do what most other things human is capable of, this includes recognizing people’s face and interact with them via its head-mounted camera, maneuver around obstructions, as well as dance in tune with music.

By being programmed and operated wirelessly, ASIMO can perform a number of tasks including fetching coffee, walking hand-in-hand with a human, and even conducting a symphony ochestra.

ASIMO runs on Lithium Ion battery with a continuous operating time of 40 minutes to 1 hour. The robot will automatically identify and walk to the closest charging station when its remaining battery level falls below a certain level. This ensures that there isn’t any human intervention needed to recharge the robot.

Honda’s commitment to continue development of ASIMO and its advanced mobility technology will only mean that the robot will one day take an active role in fulfilling serious functions in society. It may serve as another set of eyes, ears, hands, and legs for all kinds of people in need.

Hopefully soon enough, we will all have an ASIMO or equivalent serving as the helper at home instead of having to hire foreign maids like we do now.

For more information, you can visit Honda Advanced Technology

Tire DOT codeDrivers will keep their tire pressure in optimum parameters, and make sure that the threads are still good, but most often than not, we overlook the other factor that tells us how good the tire is at holding the car on the road, its freshness.

As tires are made of rubber compound, and rubber tends to get stiffen over time, fresher tire will always yield better grips. As a rule of thumb, never buy tires that are manufactured more than 6 years ago, sitting on the shelves all these while.

Fortunately, the tire manufacture date is stamped on every tire as part of the DOT code. Look out for the 4 digit code (if it is 3 digit, your tire is already way too old, manufactured before the year 2000) stamped on the sidewall of the tire. The first two digits denote the week of birth, and the last two digits describing the year of birth.

In the accompanying picture, then, 3902 means this particular tire was manufactured on the 39th week of 2002. Dividing 39 by 4 (4 weeks a month) gets us 9.x, so it was produced sometimes in September, 2002. Simple as that.

So, next time when you put in new tires, make sure they are still new. If your current set of tires still has good threads left but are already over 6 years since it was produced, consider replacing them.

More info can be found on wikipedia Tire Code

Read Tyre MarkingsMany drivers, while familiar with the size of engines and familiar with the need or regular services and oil change, are completely unaware of the importance of the patch of rubber that is between the car and the road, the tires.

Car tires come in various sizes and profile, to know what they are is to learn how to read the side markings. Together with the brand and product name, there is always a standard row of numbers and letters describing the size and profile of the tire, like in this picture: 205/65R15

  • 205 denotes width in of tire in millimeter, in this case, 205mm.
  • 65 denotes the aspect ratio, which is the height of the side wall of the tire. 65 basically means it is 65% of the width of tire, in this case, the wall of the tire is 133.25mm tall.
  • R means the tire is of Radial construction, true to pretty much all modern road cars. The other type is cross-ply construction, mostly only found in vintage cars.
  • 15 is the size of the wheel rim the tire fits, in inches.

Read Tyre MarkingsNotes:
Performance cars usually have a smaller aspect ratio as well as wider tires for better handling around the corners. To allow this and yet keep the overall circumference, bigger rims are needed.

On tire pressure:
Most sedan car tires work well at around 29-31 psi, or around 200 to 210 pascal. For optimal performance and fuel economy (low pressure = increase fuel consumption, high pressure = less grip), check your vehicle manual for optimal tire pressure. The information can also usually found at the body of the car where the driver door closes, or at the inside of the driver door itself.

capless fuel intake with Ford carsFinally an automaker decided to make a basic and yet very welcoming improvement to the one component presents in all cars, the fuel cap. Starting with the 2008 Ford GT and Lincoln MKS (the Lincoln brand is owned by Ford Motors)

Basically a flap is used to prevent gasoline fumes from escaping, working much like a valve that opens from the pressure of the gas nozzle when pumping gas. The design came from Ford’s experience in the NASCAR racing series.

I myself has lost a couple gas caps before, it’s an annoying experience. Though a very small improvement, these are some of the more thoughtful innovations that benefits the consumer while not incurring high cost nor adding unecessary complexity to the vehicle. However, this will not prevent anyone from doing this.

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Robotic Car ParkIn a world that is getting increasingly small, engineers came up with high tech solutions to the old problem that is the lack of parking space. By using automated mechanically controlled pallet instead of the traditional ramps to achieve ultimate space efficiency, storing cars like how vending machines do with canned drinks. The robotic car park not only saves space, it provides extra security too, as grand theft auto is that much harder when you can’t just break into a car and drive it away, you will have to bypass the added security measure to retrieve the car from the vault first.

This is all pretty hip and cool, until the garage owner has a licensing dispute with the software maker and got the automated garage stop working, with your car stuck in the mechanical wonder. This is what happened the Garden Street Garage at the city of Hoboken in New Jersey, USA. The city council that operates the garage had police escort Robotic Parking employees from the building just a few days before the software license expire.

The city is now sueing Robotic Parking for setting “booby trap” in the software code that causes the robotic garage to stop working, no one knows how long that will take before those cars can get out. I will be very pissed if I am one of the unsuspecting owners.

More on wired.

Cars, tech