Honda Motor Company introduced plans to innovate in new enterprise areas like electrical vertical take-off and touchdown plane (eVTOL), bipedal robots and space expertise.
Honda R&D Co., Honda Motor Company’s (HMC) improvements arm, will likely be main the hassle on “outside-the-box research on technologies that will bring about new value for people by expanding the potential of mobility into the third dimension, then the fourth dimension which defies the constraints of time and space, and ultimately into outer space,” based on the corporate.
It sounds just like the stuff of a sci-fi novel, and certainly a few of these improvements won’t find yourself panning out in the long run, however throughout Thursday’s briefing, the corporate demonstrated how its core technologies developed over the previous 73 years – like combustion, electrification, management and robotics – may evolve to swimsuit the aim of a future world with vastly totally different mobility wants.
Hybrid eVTOLs and a corresponding mobility ecosystem
The distinction between an eVTOL and a helicopter is principally that the previous has a number of propellers, every of which have an unbiased motor pushed by electrical energy from a battery, whereas the latter has one giant, and loud, rotor on the prime. As a outcome, eVTOLs are usually anticipated to be safer, quieter and cleaner.
While a lot of the eVTOL being developed all over the world are all-electric, HMC goals to “leverage its electrification technologies and develop Honda eVTOL equipped with a gas turbine hybrid power unit,” based on a press release from the corporate. The firm first introduced its intentions to develop technologies on this space throughout a press conference in April, during which HMC additionally acknowledged its targets to promote 100% EVs by 2050.
Marcos Frommer, supervisor of company communications at HMC, defined through the press briefing that all-electric eVTOLs have a really quick vary as a result of battery capability per mass, which suggests most use circumstances for these new autos will likely be restricted to quick distance flights, reminiscent of intercity transportation and shuttle flights. Even Joby Aviation, which not too long ago introduced plans to commercialize by 2024, solely recently completed the longest test flight of an eVTOL to date, and that was about 150 miles on a single cost.
“According to the results of our market research, the largest demand for mobility by eVTOL aircraft is for longer distance such as intercity transportation with a range up to 250 miles,” mentioned Frommer. “Due partly to the electrification of our automobiles Honda is putting its effort in research and development of lithium-ion batteries. However, advancement based on the current lithium-ion battery is expected to increase the energy density per capacity by only about several times in the next 20 years. So we believe that for mobility in the skies, which requires further weight reduction, it’s difficult to achieve long distance using batteries only.”
Frommer mentioned if batteries advance extra sooner or later, HMC can select to make its eVTOLs all-electric by eradicating the fuel turbine generator.
The firm says it desires to create a brand new “mobility ecosystem” that options eVTOL at its core and is related to mobility merchandise on the bottom. Per the animated instance HMC confirmed through the briefing, a enterprise government dwelling in Cape Cod would possibly have the ability to use a single app to e book a hybrid eVTOL to take him to his workplace in New York City, which might be a mere two hour commute by air. The app is likely to be related to his private autonomous Honda car, which might chat to him in regards to the climate because it drove him to a mobility hub for takeoff. When he landed an autonomous shuttle could be there ready within the Big Apple to take him to his workplace. After a day of simple commuting, he’d be residence in time for dinner on the veranda along with his household.
“By utilizing the Model Based Systems Engineering, or MBSE, method, this will be a challenge Honda will take on to transform ourselves from a conventional manufacturing company to a new company that will also design and commercialize systems and services,” mentioned Frommer. “We will be able to deliver new value to our customers only when we complete one big system consisting of various elements, including a reservation system infrastructure, air traffic control, flight operation and existing mobility products such as automobiles. It’s impossible for Honda to handle all of these elements alone and we will need to collaborate with many companies and government agencies.”
HMC plans to conduct expertise verification with prototypes in 2023, and conduct flight assessments of a hybrid demonstration mannequin in 2025. It will then decide on commercialization. If HMC decides to maneuver ahead, it hopes to acquire certifications by 2030 so it may possibly launch within the following decade. The firm informed TechCrunch if it reaches commercialization, clients can count on costs for eVTOLs, which might greater than seat 4 passengers at a time, to be decrease than enterprise class on business passenger planes.
Details about doable commercialization are nonetheless being mentioned, nonetheless, we’re striving to allow all clients to make use of our eVTOL plane at costs decrease than the costs of flying enterprise class on a business passenger airplane. Frommer mentioned HMC expects eVTOL to be the norm by 2040 and has forecasted a market dimension of about $269 billion by then.
Transcend time and space with the Honda Asimo robotic
Honda’s avatar robotic idea, Asimo, would enable the consumer to have a second self that performs duties and experiences issues with out being there in individual. Users join and remotely management the avatar by carrying a VR headset and a tactile glove that may in the end have the ability to mirror exact hand actions.
“We position this as four dimensional mobility, which transcends time and space going beyond 2D and 3D mobility,” mentioned Frommer.
The firm envisions Asimo robots getting used for functions like distant surgical procedure, which can possible be very fashionable in growing nations that don’t have entry to world-class surgeons sooner or later, or space exploration, enabling an avatar model of an individual to go to locations which might be uninhabitable or tough to succeed in by people.
“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,” based on the corporate. “Therefore, Honda strived for an avatar robot that is capable of using its multi-fingered hand to make full use of tools designed for human use and performs complex tasks quickly and accurately based on the AI-supported and more intuitive control by the user.”
Toyota additionally has the same bipedal avatar robotic managed by telepresence referred to as the T-HR3, and Tesla not too long ago unveiled its plans for a humanoid robot, though the Tesla bot doesn’t seem like based mostly on distant managed expertise. If Honda goes by means of with its plans for Asimo, it stands to purpose that it might use teleoperation each for simpler manipulation and robotic studying. Showing a robotic find out how to do one thing may simply be the easiest way to coach it.
Honda says it desires to place Asimo into sensible use within the 2030s and is hoping to conduct testing earlier than the top of the fiscal yr ending March 31, 2024.
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Ramping up space expertise analysis and improvement
Honda additionally introduced plans to speed up R&D within the subject of space expertise, particularly in lunar improvement. One theme Honda touched on briefly was its beforehand introduced circulative renewable vitality system. In June, Honda R&D Co. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced a joint feasibility study on the system, which is designed to provide oxygen, hydrogen and electrical energy for human outposts and rovers on the moon so that folks can reside in space over an prolonged time period. The system would leverage Honda’s present gasoline cell technologies and excessive differential strain water electrolysis technologies, based on the corporate.
Honda additionally mentioned utilizing remote-controlled robots on the lunar floor to reduce the dangers related to astronauts being blasted into space and to even enable individuals to just about discover the Moon from Earth. The moon robotic would come with the identical multi-fingered hand expertise and AI-supported distant management expertise that’s being developed for the avatar robotic, in addition to torque management expertise that Honda makes use of for collision mitigation.
The automaker additionally hopes to make use of its core technologies in fluid and combustion in addition to steerage and management to construct reusable rockets.
“If we can use such rockets to launch small low orbit satellites, we can expect to evolve our core technologies into various services, including connected services,” mentioned Frommer. “All such services will be compatible with Honda technology.”
Frommer mentioned Honda gave its “young engineers” with desires of constructing a rocket the go forward on the finish of 2019 to start R&D. Honda didn’t present any additional specifics about both of its space initiatives.