Honda forming new R&D operation for “new value” areas: robotics, mobility systems and energy management
Honda R&D Co., Ltd., the R&D subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., plans to create “R&D Center X,” a new research and development operation within the company, which will assume responsibility for “new value” areas that include robotics technology, mobility system and energy management, etc. The official establishment of R&D Center X will take place in April.
Honda has decided that evolving digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and “big data” offer potential for value creation in a wider range of fields beyond its current field of businesses. To address this opportunity, Honda R&D Center X will take a “non-traditional” approach to assume responsibility for the research and development in “new value” areas.
Initially, R&D Center X will focus on research of autonomously operated machines and systems, such as robotics technologies and mobility systems, which will be collectively called “robotics.” The concept of robotics includes energy management, which is necessary to power robots and mobility systems. Moreover, as a fundamental technology of robotics, R&D Center X will conduct research into technologies that lead to “artificial intelligence that works cooperatively with people.”
Being able to “work cooperatively with people” consists of three phases for Honda:
- to understand and relate to people’s emotions;
- to provide support for people and grow together with people; and
- to expand the potential of people who will continue to play the lead role.
With these themes, Honda will strive to create a robotics society where various systems, products and services equipped with “artificial intelligence that works cooperatively with people”.
Toward this end, Honda will pursue strategic collaborations with outside parties through open innovation.
Honda R&D Innovation Lab Tokyo (HIL-TK), which was newly established in 2016, will play the role of R&D Center X’s liaison with outside parties. While setting “artificial intelligence that works cooperatively with people” and “digital technologies that make automobiles more intelligent” as main themes of its research activities, HIL-TK will conduct research and development not only in “new value” areas where R&D Center X will be responsible, but also in areas related to existing fields of technologies such as automated driving and connectivity technologies.
To advance research and development by gaining a wider perspective, R&D Center X will welcome two advisors: Dr. Edward A. Feigenbaum, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford University; and Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama, Managing Partner of Industrial Growth Platform, Inc. (IGPI).