Honda Showcases Four New Mobility and Companionship Robot Concepts at CES

Honda has unveiled its concept robots at CES 2018 under the title "Empower, Experience, Empathy".

Honda has showcased its 3E Robotics Concept at CES this week. The three E’s stand for Empower, Experience, Empathy and represent what Honda describes as being "engineered to understand people's needs and make their lives better." The Robotics concept vision contains a field of individual robots designed to fulfill a range of functions ranging from disaster recovery and recreation as well as learning from human interaction to become more helpful and empathetic. The 3E Robotics Concept is the core of the Honda Showcase at CES 2018.

Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, president & CEO of Honda R&D Co., Ltd described the company's position saying: "Honda views robotics not as something in conflict with people, but as an opportunity to expand their potential. We have entered an era when robotics will become increasingly visible and essential in our everyday lives and have the ability to unlock human potential." 

'Empower' robots

The robot designed to represent the idea of "Empower" is called the 3E-D18, described as ‘an autonomous off-road workhorse device utilizing AI to support people in a broad range of work activities'.

The 3E-D18 has the styling of a Honda ATV and is envisaged to have broad applications across industries such as search and rescue, firefighting, construction, and agriculture. The nuggety little robot is equipped with sensors and GPS that help it follow commands set by its owners.

Honda Showcases Four New Mobility and Companionship Robot Concepts at CES
Source: Naomi Ellais/Interesting Engineering

One cool feature is the robot's ability to follow paths set remotely on satellite maps. The 3E-D18 could become a really important tool in search and rescue missions in tough terrain. Another robot under the Empower heading is the 3E-B18, a robotic device designed for 'empowering people to be mobile in a variety of situations.'

Honda Showcases Four New Mobility and Companionship Robot Concepts at CES
Source: Naomi Ellais/Interesting Engineering

Designed for both indoor and outdoor use the combination cart and buggy has a tight turning circle and the ability to ascend and descend slopes.

Robots can recognize human emotion

The Honda "Experience" robot which represents the idea that people and robotic devices have the potential to grow and learn together is embodied in the 3E-C18 robot. The artificial intelligence enabled robot can learn through its interactions with people and operate autonomously. The 3E-C18 has a more personal aesthetic to it with big blinking eyes on its screen while retaining a useful boxy shape that offers carrying functionality.

Finally, the Empathy robot, known as the 3E-A18 can understand and respond to human emotions. Designed to be a companion and carer in large busy places, the 3E-A18 can help users with their individual needs.

Honda Showcases Four New Mobility and Companionship Robot Concepts at CES
Source: Naomi Ellais/Interesting Engineering

Honda Xcelerator program funds startups

In addition to the robotics concept, Honda says that in 2018 they will invest in mobility, and energy management. As part of this investment, Honda announced they are partnering with six startup companies to demonstrate technologies that relate to autonomous vehicles and advanced connected cars. The partnership between the fledgling company and Honda is performed under the umbrella Honda Xcelerator. The six featured startups are BRAIQ, DeepMap, DynaOptics, EXO Technologies, Tactual Labs, and WayRay. The Xcelerator program provides the startup companies with funding to develop prototypes, access to workspace and ongoing support from Honda mentors from both business and technology fields.

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The Honda Xcelerator program has a wide area of focus including Artificial Intelligence, Connected Vehicles, Energy Innovation, Human Machine Interface, Industrial Innovation, Personal Mobility, and Robotics. "With our Xcelerator partners, Honda will explore technologies that can potentially transform its future products and services, and create new business opportunities," said Honda Innovations CEO, Nick Sugimoto. "We encourage innovators who share our vision to meet with us at CES 2018."

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