In addition to automobiles, Honda, which has been involved in many fields, recently announced a development plan for vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL) and remote telepresence robots. Regarding the former, Honda will not only use its lithium battery technology developed for electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, but also incorporate gas turbine hybrid power devices, so that future aircraft will have sufficient endurance to complete regional-city flights. Honda expects that air taxis will become a ubiquitous and important part of the future traffic pattern. It will seamlessly integrate with self-driving cars on the ground and traditional aircraft (which may also be expected to become self-driving aircraft) into a new transportation system.
However, Honda’s project is still in a very early stage of research, and perhaps we may not be able to see concrete progress before the second half of the 2020s. Honda’s current plan is to produce prototypes for testing and certification in the 2030s, and it is estimated that it will take around 2040 for the full promotion of commercial use.
As for the robot part, in Honda’s envisioned future, people don’t have to be limited by space and time, because there are remote presence robots that have visual and tactile sensitivity comparable to humans. Operations such as inspecting remote factories or conducting product demonstrations may be realized in the future by simply wearing a VR helmet and being able to “enter” the robots located on the scene.
Honda plans to put the Avatar Robot, the latest revision of Asimo in the picture above, into practical use in the 2030s. To achieve this goal, they plan to conduct relevant technology demonstration tests before the end of the first quarter of 2024. However, the representative of Honda also said that before that, the development team still has many companies to do, such as reducing the hand hardware of the robot and improving the flexibility of grasping.
It is worth mentioning that Honda also announced the next development direction of some space businesses during the same period. They will next study how to apply existing fuel cells and high-pressure differential water electrolysis technology on the surface of the moon to improve the recycling and renewable energy system. The system uses electricity from renewable energy sources to break the molecular bonds of liquid water to produce hydrogen and oxygen. Then these two elements cooperate with Honda’s fuel cell to generate more electricity, and finally the lunar base can provide oxygen for human survival and hydrogen for rocket fuel.
In addition, Honda is also developing a more flexible Avatar robot, hoping to allow astronauts on the lunar surface to remotely control the robot to control the lunar rover, so as to avoid potential dangers as much as possible.Currently Honda and JAXA Cooperation has been reached, and the two parties have been working together to promote the development of the above two products since June this year.