Honda will present a number of innovations at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show including a new motorcycle concept “demonstrating an application of the company’s robotics technology.”
No details were released, but the announcement isn’t that surprising considering Honda’s previous work with its ASIMO robot and plans from rivals Yamaha and Kawasaki involving robotics and artificial intelligence. We’ll have to wait for Honda’s CES press conference on Jan. 5, 2017 for more information.
In addition to being a nod to Isaac Asimov, ASIMO stands for “Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility.” The current version of ASIMO was first introduced in 2000 to be a multifunctional mobile assistant. Though it is best known as somewhat of a mascot for the company, the technologies behind ASIMO have carried over into Honda’s motorcycle operations. The technology that helps ASIMO keep its balance while walking was used to develop sensors on Honda’s MotoGP bikes.
So what’s next for Honda? One possibility is a motorcycle-riding robot, such as the one Yamaha is currently developing. Yamaha’s MotoBot is being programmed to be able to ride a motorcycle around a racetrack, with the company hoping to get it to reach speeds up to 124 mph on an R1M next year. The wording of Honda’s announcement suggests the robotics may be part of the motorcycle itself, so perhaps Honda is working on an autonomous motorcycle rather than a robot riding a motorcycle.
Meanwhile, Kawasaki is working on an Artificial Intelligence system that lets a motorcycle communicate with its rider. Kawasaki is working with Japanese telecom company SoftBank and its “Emotion Engine” for the A.I. Honda is also working with SoftBank, introducing an automated commuter vehicle called the NeuV (pictured below) at CES. It’s possible that Honda may be working on someway to implement the Emotion Engine on motorcycles as well.
We’ll know more on Jan. 5 when Honda President and Chief Executive Officer Yoshiyuki Matsumoto takes the stage at CES.