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In New York, Honda is invaded by robots – its own

Honda's latest Asimo robot makes an appearance in New York.

Honda's latest Asimo robot makes an appearance in New York. (Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

On 17 April at the New York auto show, there was a tense moment when the presenter at Honda’s press conference, perhaps stricken by a case of public-speaking nerves, froze onstage. Then, on cue, he started dancing.

For lack of new product to showcase, the star attraction at the Honda stand was Asimo, the latest evolution of Honda’s 110lb wonder in white. The sub-five-foot humanoid took to the stage, gesticulating with anthropomorphic ease next to a flesh-and-blood spokesman for Honda Motor America.

Asimo’s 14-year development period was time diligently spent. It (he? she?) is now capable of communicating in American and Japanese sign language, and can move its arms and legs for the bemusement of overworked automotive journalists. Extra credit for the additional sensors and mechanical elements that allowed Asimo to move fingers individually, hop on one foot and dance with the nervous dexterity of a school prom attendee.

The press conference also served as the visual introduction and naming ceremony for the Honda HR-V, a version of the Vezel mini-crossover now on sale in Japan – although the model itself was absent. The HR-V will be based on the same chassis as the 2015 Fit, and will be assembled alongside the hatchback at Honda’s new manufacturing facility north of Mexico City. Like the Jeep Renegade – which made its US debut here – outsize headlights and taillights, as well as hidden rear door handles, give the car big presence.

No details were released about the HR-V’s actual dimensions or powertrain, but it’s a virtual given that the car will raid the Fit bin, grabbing among other things its sibling’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission.

That will wait. For now, there’s a dance party going on.

Honda's latest Asimo robot makes an appearance in New York. (Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

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