Honda wants to make significant strides in the next ten years with electric VTOL aircraft, remote-controlled robots and an energy system for the moon. The latter two initiatives are intended to enable activities and developments on the moon.
The first of the three initiatives that Honda publishes revolves around VTOL aircraft. These are aircraft that can take off and land vertically. Honda wants to develop electric VTOLs with small blades that would be suitable for the city. The fully electric variants would only be suitable for transport within a city, due to the limited range.
That is why Honda also wants to develop a hybrid VTOL with a gas turbine, in order to make VTOL trips between individual cities possible. Honda sees these VTOL air taxis as a growing market where the company can use many of its own developments. For example, Honda has knowledge in the field of combustion engines, aerodynamics and control systems, which makes it easier for Honda to use these techniques for VTOLs.
Ultimately, the VTOLs must be bookable with an app. Based on the video below, Honda is focusing on autonomous VTOLs in which the user can, for example, sleep or work during the flight.
The avatar robot
Honda also says it wants to develop an ‘avatar robot’ that should be a virtual representation of a human being. The idea is that someone at home or elsewhere puts on a VR headset with matching gloves, with which someone can remotely take over an avatar robot. For example, someone could perform first aid without having to go to the location themselves.
For this avatar robot, Honda wants to combine its own products, such as the Asimo robot and its own multi-finger robot hand. This robotic hand has the advantage that it can gently pick up objects with the fingertips, but also has enough strength to open a tight jar lid. Honda would like to combine these developments with artificial intelligence to allow the avatar robots to perform precise movements smoothly from a distance.
Before April 2024, Honda would like to show a first technological demonstration of this avatar robot. In the next decade, the avatar robot could be put to practical use, Honda hopes.
That avatar robot could also be used on the moon, in addition to people who walk on the surface of the moon themselves, Honda thinks. To make this possible, the company wants to develop a renewable energy system in which fuel cells are combined with high differential pressure water electrolysis.
That electrolysis system would break down any water that may be on the moon into hydrogen and oxygen. That oxygen would be used so that people on the moon can breathe; hydrogen would again be used for energy to generate electricity or to launch rockets.
Finally, Honda announces its intention to develop small, renewable rockets. The goal is first to create a small rocket that can launch small, low-earth orbit satellites. These satellites are used, for example, for research or for mobile communication. At the moment, according to Honda, there would be a shortage of such small rockets. That is why Honda has been working on this since the end of 2019. The company is also investigating whether these rockets could be at least partly renewable.