The research and development wing of Honda Motor, Honda R&D Co Ltd, has announced the company's plans to set up R&D Center X, a research and development operation within the company which would work in 'new value' areas that include robotics technology, mobility system and energy management, etc. R&D Center X will be officially set up in April this year. Honda has been exploring digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and the company now sees “expanding possibility to create value in a wider range of fields beyond the field of current businesses.”
Responding to such changes in the business environment and under the concept of “AI×Data×Honda’s strengths”, Honda says it will continue to create product and experience that can improve the quality of people’s lives.
For this challenge, Honda R&D will establish R&D Center X, which 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 - 1) to understand and relate to people’s emotions, 2) to provide support for people and grow together with people, and 3) 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” will further highlight the inherent greatness of human beings.
Honda is also looking forward to strategic collaborations with other companies. 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, but also in areas related to existing fields of technologies such as automated driving and connectivity technologies.
To carry out R&D works in new value areas, Honda has got on board two advisors: Dr. Edward A. Feigenbaum, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford University, known as the foremost researcher in the field of artificial intelligence, and Mr. Kazuhiko Toyama, Managing Partner of Industrial Growth Platform, Inc (IGPI), who has a lengthy and proven track record in the areas of corporate renewal and new business creation.