Summary Box: Honda shows smarter robot

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THE INNOVATION: Honda’s demonstration of the revamped “Asimo,” a human-shaped robot.

WHAT IT CAN DO: The robot can now run faster, balance itself on uneven surfaces, hop on one foot and pour a drink. Some of its technology may even be used to help out with clean-up operations at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

THE OLD ASIMO: Some critics say that Asimo, first shown in 2000, had been of little practical use so far, proving to be nothing more than a glorified toy and cute showcase for the Honda Motor Co. brand.