Honda has recently released their plans to build eVTOLs, robots, and even potentially help colonize the moon. All very noble and ambitious plans, but those, Honda says, that are being put in place to help solve issues beyond just transportation.
The announcement came on Thursday, September 30, and is something quite surprising for a company more commonly associated with building great cars like the Civic, Accord, and CR-V.
Honda's plans for an eVTOL are much closer to the company's core business. This part of the plan comes hot on the heels of the growing appetite for vertical takeoff personal transportation. Unlike most of the competition in this area, however, Honda will focus more on a gas turbine hybrid powerplant rather than all-electric.
Honda's helicopter-like eVTOL, Honda Envisage, will be used for intercity travel, not just city commuting. Such a contraption would, of course, require specific infrastructure to become viable which is something the company has said they are willing to invest in too.
With regards to robots, Honda also has some experience in this field. Asimo, that robot that has been in the news for a few years now, being a prime example. The next step, in Honda's view, is to build avatar-like robots that can be used remotely by users.
This will enable human operators to be located anywhere in the world, and for dangerous places, completely out of harm's way. Called "second self" by Honda, the company has already released a proof of concept for this technology in the form of a robotic hand and fingers that can be operated remotely.
The disembodied hand and fingers are able to handle tools with sufficient force and dexterity. Honda believes the possibilities for this field are enormous and hopes to reveal more details in a few year's time.
Honda, believe it or not, wants to help settle on the moon
With regards to Honda's plans to help the settlement on the moon, this is by far the most ambitious of the three. With little or no experience in this area, it will be interesting to see what the company can pull out of its sleeve.
While the company has no plans, as yet, to actually build moon bases, they are looking at finding ways to help provide technological solutions to life support for future moon colonists. To this end, Honda has recently teamed up with Japan's version of NASA, JAXA, with the view of building a "circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surface."
Such a plan is, however, entirely dependant on the actual presence of water on the moon's surface. If true, which it seems very likely to be, Honda will want to modify its existing fuel cell technology to provide futuristic technologies.
One example is a high differential pressure water electrolysis technology that could decompose the water to create free hydrogen and oxygen. The latter could be used to help colonists breathe, while the former would form the basis of rocket fuel for moon-based missions or refueling.
Honda also hopes to get in on the rocket market by developing, sometime in the future, small rockets to support the launch of low-Earth orbit satellites, perhaps even beyond.
How many of these ambitious plans actually bear fruit is yet to be seen, but Honda is not planning on shifting gears away from their core business, cars, just yet. This will be an interesting decade, or so, for the company, so watch this space.