Honda plans new air taxi, robotics and space technologies

01 October 2021
An artist’s rendering of Honda’s planned eVTOL aircraft that will be designed for inter-city travel. Source: Honda

Honda Motor Co. announced it is pursuing new technology areas that will complement or enhance its core automotive technologies.

These areas include developing a new electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi, new robots and space vehicles

The Honda eVTOL aircraft leverages Honda’s electrification technologies for its gas turbine hybrid power unit enabling an extension of range for inter-city transportation. Honda said the aircraft will connect with mobility products on the ground and create a new mobility ecosystem.

The company said the eVTOL will include safety features equivalent to those of commercial aircraft but with a simplified structure and decentralized propulsive system. Because the small diameter of the rotors will allow the air taxi to be quiet, it can take off and land in the middle of the city without causing noise issues.

Honda said because air taxis are limited by the battery in the system, it is developing electrification and a gas turbine hybrid power unit to extend range as well as improvements in combustion, aerodynamics and control technologies.

On the robotics front, Honda’s Avatar Robot will expand the range of the human ability virtually without time or space constraints. The robot will be equipped with a multi-finger hand and Honda’s original artificial intelligence-supported remote-control function. The company plans to have the robot available for use by 2030 and will begin testing in 2024.

The robot will act as a second self of the user allowing operators to perform tasks and experience things without being there in person and using the robotic hand to carry objects remotely. This could be used for industrial uses in the field or places where humans cannot go. It could also be used in emergency rescue or natural disasters to help search for people in wreckage or other areas.

In space technology, Honda is looking to develop new technologies that will allow vehicles to include a circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surface through fuel cell technologies and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies.

These vehicles will utilize Honda’s multi-fingered robotic hand with AI-supported remote-control function and torque control technologies to perform tasks on the lunar surface.

Additionally, Honda will develop small rockets using core technologies such as combustion and control technologies. Honda is developing the rockets because there are not enough rockets to meet demand for satellite launches. The rockets will be designed to provide lift to small vehicles for small low-earth orbit satellites. They will also be reusable and land back on earth after launch.

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