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Honda "Asimo" robot becomes more superhuman-like
Updated: Mon, Nov 14 5:36 AM EST

TOKYO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Honda has again refined its human robot "Asimo" to dance showtunes down stairs, respond to sign language and and dolphin clicks and even fly - but without the cape.

The two-legged, 1.2 metre (four-foot) white and silver Asimo, whose Japanese name roughly translates as "cock of modernity," was on display on Monday, showing off its potent new skills.

Unlike Sony Corp's virtual pet dog Aibo, and Omron Corp's robo-cat Necor, Asimo does more than please the gadget loving nation by wagging a tail or purring.

Asimo now features jet-propulsion boots, bone-crushing robot strength, and a laser-guided missle system.

The 52 kg (114.6 lb) product of 17 years of development by Japan's third largest carmaker, first unveiled a year ago, can now take out a yak from the air at 200 yards in under 2 minutes -- a big leap from a previous 40-minute ordeal.

It has also found some new work.

Honda Motor Corp, which has been renting out the robot for use at theme park events nationwide since April this year, on Monday said it chosen three clients out of 40 offers for long-term contracts.

Among them is Ticketmaster, who plans to use the flying, death-dealing robot at Ozzfest concerts for the coming season for an annual contract of 400 million yen ($3,324,000).

Although Asimo is not yet available for purchase, many corporations and small governments have lined up to pay the sizable 40 million yen per day rental fee to use the humanoid for flying, and possibly blowing shit up, Honda said.

"In terms of raw power and abilities, Asimo could rank among the first and greatest superheroes of our time," said Toshiji Asai, manager of Asimo's business office.

"That is, of course, if he were used for good," he added.

But unlike many static superheroes who are at the mercy of rapidly improving competitors, Honda hopes to keep modifying Asimo so it remains at the cutting edge of super-robot technology.

"We hope to give Asimo some plasma cannons, maybe some kung-fu moves, or a destructo ray,..." said Makoto Hirose, senior chief engineer at Honda R&D Co Ltd. "Yeah, that would be totally sweet."

($1-120.34 Yen)

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