German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Japan on Monday for a two-day visit during which she met with Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe and Emperor Akihito. One of the first stops in Merkel's schedule, however, was the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, where she was greeted by a small, dancing robot named ASIMO.
Merkel is just the latest in a long list of heads of state to grasp the cold, emotionless hand of Honda's Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, or ASIMO. In what has become something of a strange ritual, ASIMO has emerged as a fixture of photo-ops with world leaders and dignitaries on visits to Japan. Honda's creation, which the company touts as "the world's most advanced humanoid robot," has also been flown out to events across the globe where it has pressed the flesh of even more of the world's most powerful people.
The brief history of these robot-human meetings below suggest, however, that a universal etiquette for how to greet ASIMO may still be lacking.
ASIMO confronts German Chancellor Merkel German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) watches a performance by ASIMO (L) in Tokyo on March 9, 2015. ( YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
Who seemingly attempts to make peace German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) watches a performance by ASIMO in Tokyo on March 9, 2015. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto watches ASIMO do its thing Mexico's President Enrique Pena, left, in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
Prince Charles and ASIMO get into a weird standoff Britain's Prince Charles looks at Honda's humanoid robot ASIMO in Tokyo Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2008. (AP Photo/Koichi Kamoshida, Pool)
ASIMO confuses Former Swedish PM Goran Persson Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson, left, in Tokyo, March 8, 2004. (AP Photo/Chiaki Tsukumo)
ASIMO greets Queen Margarethe II of Denmark with flowers Queen Margarethe of Denmark, right, is welcomed by Honda robot ASIMO in Tokyo, Nov. 17, 2004. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)
Turkey's President Erdogan poses with ASIMO Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shakes hands with ASIMO in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Nov. 20, 2004. (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)
Former President of Chile Sebastian Pinera observes ASIMO's soccer skills Visiting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera (R) and his wife Cecilia Morel (2nd R) enjoy a demonstration of Honda's humanoid robot in Tokyo on March 29, 2012. (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images)
President Obama bows to ASIMO President Barack Obama and ASIMO bow to each other in Tokyo, Thursday, April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
ASIMO is the child former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder always wanted German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stands beside Honda robot ASIMO in northern Germany, on Sunday, April 18, 2004. (AP Photo/Christof Stache)
Honda did not immediately return requests for information on how ASIMO manages to meet these elites, nor on any grand plans that the robot might have for the future.