Tin Men

At a diminutive 1.2 meters tall, it looks like a child wearing a spacesuit and walks with a deceptively natural gait that belies the whir of gears and motors emanating from its hard plastic body. Reacting to a person entering the lobby of Honda Motor Co.'s Wako Research Center just outside of Tokyo, the robot advances toward the reception desk, stops, bows and says in a prepubescent boy's voice: "Welcome to the Honda R. and D. center. My name is ASIMO." When the visitor offers to shake hands, ASIMO extends a mechanical hand in response. Then, on cue from a Honda...

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