Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today said its pursuing outside-the-box research on technologies that will bring about new value for people by expanding the potential of mobility into the 3rd dimension, then the 4th dimension which defies the constraints of time and space, and ultimately into outer space.
These new initiatives will be built on Honda Motor’s core technologies in the areas of combustion, electrification, control and robotics.
These new areas include an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, avatar robot with a goal to expand the range of human ability and a new challenge in the field of outer space.
According to Keiji Ohtsu, President and Representative Director of Honda R&D Co., Ltd, “All of the initiatives we introduced today are for the challenges Honda takes on in new areas, but the underlying passion of Honda to use our technology to make people’s lives more enjoyable remains unchanged. Ever since the company’s founding, the wellspring of Honda’s challenges has always been the people at Honda who generate original technologies and ideas. Through the creation of new mobility, Honda will continue striving to change the value people place on mobility and make positive changes to our society.”
1. Honda eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft:
Honda Motor Co. says this will make mobility in he skies more accessible for people. Honda eVTOL leverages Honda’s electrification technologies for its gas turbine hybrid power unit to provide inter-city (city-to-city) transportation, where the market size is expected to grow in the future.
Honda will create a new “mobility ecosystem” featuring Honda eVTOL at its core, connected with mobility products on the ground or work with its original HondaJet to increase accessibility.
Honda will leverage its electrification technologies and develop Honda eVTOL equipped with a gas turbine hybrid power unit featuring technologies Honda has amassed in a number of different areas such as combustion, aerodynamics and control technologies.
Honda will strive to create new value for people by establishing a “mobility ecosystem” featuring eVTOL aircraft at its core, coordinated and integrated with mobility on the ground.
Honda eVTOL which leveraged Honda’s core technologies
the image of the world to be realized with Honda eVTOL
Image of “Mobility ecosystem”
2. Honda Avatar Robot: will make virtual mobility possible
Honda will develop an avatar robot with the goal to expand the range of human ability virtually without the constraints of time and place / space. The Honda Avatar Robot will be equipped with a multi-fingered hand, an application of Honda robotics technologies, and Honda’s original AI-supported remote control function.
With a view to putting the Honda Avatar Robot into practical use in the 2030s, Honda is pursuing development with a goal to conduct technology demonstration testing before the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024.
In Robotics, Honda has been continuously working on robotics research, including the research and development of its bi-pedal robot ASIMO. As a part of next-generation Honda robotics, Honda is pursuing development for the practical applications of Honda’s original avatar robot to expand the range of human ability virtually without the constraints of time and place.
The greatest merit of an avatar robot, which can act as a second self of the user, is that the user can perform tasks and experience things without being there in person, including the realistic sense of handling objects remotely. What will become the core of the realization of such an avatar robot is the multi-fingered robotic hand developed while leveraging Honda’ strengths in robotics technologies and Honda’s original AI-supported remote control function.
To date, Honda has realized a multi-fingered hand with the ability to both delicately pick up a small object with the fingertips and the strength to open a tight jar lid, at the level of the human hand. This has long been a challenge in the field of robotics research. Honda is working on the further advancement of its original AI-supported remote control function to allow the multi-fingered hand to grasp objects smoothly and precisesly.
the motion of Multi-fingered hand
The Honda Avatar Robot will be demostrated before the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024, with a vision to put it into practical use in the 2030s.
the image of the world to be realized with Honda avatar robots
3. Space technology
Honda is accelerating its research and development in the field of space technologies while building a circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surface by leveraging Honda fuel cell technologies and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies.
Applying Honda’s multi-fingered robotic hand, AI-supported remote control function, and highly-responsive torque control technologies to remotely-controlled robots which will perform tasks on the lunar surface.
Honda is also working on a small, reusable rocket to create new value in the ultimate environment of outer space.
3-1. Challenges on the lunar surface:
Honda began initiatives to strive for the expansion of human activities and development on the lunar surface. Honda is conducting a joint research with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) with a goal to build the circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surfaceby leveraging fuel cell technologies and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies Honda has amassed to date.
By combining Honda’s fuel cell technologies and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies, and by using electricity from renewable energy sources, the system electrically decomposes water and stores hydrogen and oxygen. Then, using that hydrogen and oxygen, Honda’s fuel cell technologies, can generate and supply electricity. The oxygen also can be used for people staying at living quarters on the lunar surface, and the hydrogen also will be used as fuel for rockets. By building such a circulative renewable energy system, Honda will strive to contribute to a wide range of human activitieson the lunar surface.
Moreover, for the remotely-controlled robots on the lunar surface, which can minimize the risks astronauts will be exposed to and enable people to virtually enjoy the experience of being on the Moon from Earth, via technologies such as its multi-fingered robotic hand technology and AI-supported remote control technology being developed for the Honda Avatar Robot and the highly-responsive torque control technology for collision mitigation.
Image of utilizing a circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surface ©JAXA/Honda
3-2. Reusable small rocket which will apply Honda’s core technologies
Honda also is working on the development of small rockets with a goal to use it as a launch vehicle for small low-earth orbit satellites. Moreover, Honda is conducting research with an assumption to make its rocket “reusable”by enabling at least some of the rocket components to land back on earth after the launching. For this challenge, Honda will strive to utilize control and guidance technologies Honda has amassed through the development of automated driving technologies.
Reusable small rocket being developed by leveraging the core technologies of Honda
Artificial satellites are indispensable for various purposes including the observation of the global environment, such as global warming and abnormal weather conditions and also to enable wide-area communication, which is an effective means to provide connectivity to mobility products. However, currently, there are not enough rockets available to meet demand for satellite launches. To address this issue, Honda is developing a small rocket to help fill those gaps.