In order to show off ASIMO's latest advances in autonomous behavior, Honda set up live "demonstration testing". This ran into a snag when ASIMO asked visitors to raise their hands to ask questions.
The demonstration, designed to show how ASIMO can communicate with the general public, is taking place at Tokyo's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation between July 3 and August 2. Honda's intention was that ASIMO would autonomously explain its own features to guests visiting the Miraikan stating in its press release:
ASIMO will communicate interactively by asking people questions they can respond to by a show of hands, presuming their intention and then explaining things in an easy-to-understand manner including gestures. Moreover, ASIMO recognizes the reactions of up to several dozen people by sensing their behavior using a network of sensors. Based on the recognition of people's reactions, ASIMO autonomously determines how to explain things by making continuous judgments on its own, requiring no sequential commands from an operator.
However, as captured on this video, when it gave its presentation to reporters, ASIMO didn't perform as expected. Its perceptual system failed to distinguish between a raised hand and a hand holding up a smartphone and also seemed to get flustered by the cameras and appeared to get stuck in the loop of asking "Who wants to ask ASIMO a question?"
This is something of a setback for Honda, which is "striving to realize robots which are useful to people and society". Satoshi Shigemi, Honda's Head of Robotics, admitted to reporters that more work is needed on ASIMOs interpretation of waving gestures.
It seems that Honda hadn't taken into account that in the real world people don't always behave as you might want them to. If only it could pre-program the audience to behave as in the ideal scenario presented in its press release.