Honda unveiled its priorities for the next decade on Thursday, highlighting the company's efforts to reduce its environmental impact, expand its work in robotics and avionics and facilitate travel to the Moon.
Honda's 2030 Vision includes plans for a Honda Avatar Robot, a Honda eVTOL aircraft, reusable rockets and other technology designed for space.
"All of the initiatives we introduced today are for the challenges Honda takes on in new areas, but the underlying passion of Honda to use our technology to make people's lives more enjoyable remains unchanged," said Keiji Ohtsu, president of Honda R&D.
"Ever since the company's founding, the wellspring of Honda's challenges has always been the people at Honda who generate original technologies and ideas. Through the creation of new mobility, Honda will continue striving to change the value people place on mobility and make positive changes to our society."
Honda said its research department was hard at work on a number of initiatives that would further its goal of zero environmental impact and zero traffic collisions.
The Honda eVTOL -- which stands for electric vertical take-off and landing -- is being designed to use Honda's electrification technologies for its gas turbine hybrid power unit to facilitate electric inter-city transportation.
"In addition to clean operation realized by electrification technologies, eVTOL features safety at a level equivalent to that of commercial passenger airplanes realized by its simple structure and decentralized propulsive system and quietness due to relatively small diameter of rotors," the company explained in a statement.
"This makes it possible for eVTOL to take off and land in the middle of a city without causing noise issues. Because of such features, the development race for eVTOL aircraft is getting increasingly vigorous. However, all-electric eVTOL aircraft face a range issue due to limited battery capacity. Therefore, the realistic use area is limited to intra-city (inside a city) transportation."
Honda also said it would continue work on the Avatar Robot and its bi-pedal robot ASIMO. Honda is hoping to put the robots into "practical use" in the 2030s and is planning to "conduct technology demonstration testing" before March 31, 2024.
They explained that their vision of the robot will involve it serving as a "second self" of the user, allowing someone to have the robot perform tasks on their behalf.
Honda's robots already have multi-fingered hands and can pick up small objects as well as open jar lids. Honda is adding AI to the robots to support remote control functions.
The company noted that it is hard at work on developing space technologies that will facilitate "a circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surface" and is investigating whether the robots being developed would work on the lunar surface.
"As international momentum for expanding the range of human activities outside the Earth continues to grow, Honda began initiatives to strive for the expansion of human activities and development on the lunar surface. It is said that there is water on the Moon, and various possibilities for the use of water may open up are attracting attention," Honda explained.
"Honda is conducting a joint research with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) with a goal to build the circulative renewable energy system on the lunar surface by leveraging fuel cell technologies and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies Honda has amassed to date. By combining Honda's fuel cell technologies and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies, and by using electricity from renewable energy sources, the system electrically decomposes water and stores hydrogen and oxygen. Then, using that hydrogen and oxygen, Honda's fuel cell technologies can generate and supply electricity."
The company is also developing small reusable rockets both for use on the Moon and for satellites, noting that there are not enough rockets available to meet the demand for satellite launches.
"These new initiatives are made possible by core technologies Honda has amassed to date, including technologies in the areas of combustion, electrification, control and robotics," Honda said.
"Through the comprehensive utilization of such technological strengths, Honda will strive to realize the joy of expanding people's life's potential in new areas in addition to existing business areas."