LAS VEGAS – Honda makes its biggest showing yet at CES with a variety of concepts, all envisioning a future of increased communication between vehicles and infrastructure and of the vehicle as a means to raise user productivity as well as entertain.
The 2-seat Honda NeuV fits into the automaker’s cooperative mobility ecosystem theme at this year’s electronics show by being an “electric automated mini-vehicle concept equipped with an artificial intelligence ‘emotion engine’ and automated personal assistant, creating new possibilities for human interaction and new value for customers,” the Japanese automaker says in a statement.
The emotion engine, by tech firm cocoro SB and dubbed HANA (Honda Automated Network Assistant), can make choices based on past decisions of the driver as well as elevate the driver’s mood via music recommendations.
The NeuV (New Electric Urban Vehicle) is seen as suitable for automated ride sharing, based on the fact privately owned vehicles are idle 96% of the time, Honda says. It also can sell energy back to the grid when it’s not in motion.
“We designed NeuV to become more valuable to the owner by optimizing and monetizing the vehicle’s down time,” Mike Tsay, principal designer-Honda R&D Americas, says in a statement.
The car features a header-less windshield, touch-panel interface and an electric skateboard to get users the fabled “last mile,” that last bit of distance to their destination should they park the car far from it.
Also on Honda’s CES stand is a riding-assist motorcycle, which uses self-balancing technology to prevent falls while stationary, technology previously seen on the Honda Uni-Cub scooter. The Uni-Cub’s speed and direction is controlled by a rider shifting his or her body weight.
Another concept on Honda’s stand, although not a vehicle, is what the automaker calls smart swarm technology, designed for a collision-free future. The demonstration “immerses visitors in a world where vehicles sharing the road communicate with one another using dedicated short range communication to support the driver in negotiating complex driving situations,” Honda says.
“The autonomous age has dawned, and Honda, like all automakers, is working to refine and advance this technology to achieve our goal for a collision-free society in the 2040 timeframe,” says Frank Paluch, president-Honda R&D Americas.
Meanwhile, Honda, in conjunction with its Silicon Valley lab, will be demonstrating with existing partner Visa and new infrastructure partners Gilbarco Veeder-Root and IPS Group proof-of-concept demonstrations for in-vehicle payments for gasoline and parking.
“Payments have evolved from physical plastic cards to a digital, mobile wallet and Honda sees this as an opportunity to bring this technology into the car to pay for services from the comfort of one’s own car,” says John Moon, developer-relations lead for Honda Developer Studio.
In the case of refueling, drivers parked next to a smart pump by Gilbarco Veeder-Root, can use a smartphone app that can select the amount of gas they desire and calculate the cost.
The Silicon Valley lab’s Xcelerator open-innovation program at CES will show collaborations with VocalZoom, for applying its human-to-machine optical-sensor technology for in-vehicle voice control, and LEIA, using its nanotechnology for 3D images in in-vehicle displays.
Honda says the VocalZoom sensor reads “physical facial skin vibrations” during speech to separate words from background noise, while the LEIA nanotech “presents (3D) depth in a way that feels natural” and with “seamless transitions between different viewing angles for warnings and driver-assistive systems.”
Also on the topic of in-vehicle experiences, Honda announces it is teaming with DreamWorks Animation for augmented and virtual-reality content, seen in the Honda Dream Drive in-car virtual-reality prototype at the automaker’s CES booth. The car combines VR headsets with DreamWorks’ recently released movie “Trolls.”
“The idea is to evolve from parallel play to connected, cooperative play that connects passengers and drivers to their drive, each other and the world around them,” says Bryan Biniak, entrepreneur in residence at Nokia Growth Partners and co-developer of the Honda Dream Drive experience.