Yoshiyuki Matsumoto, President & CEO of Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It is my great pleasure to be back at CES this year.
Last year, Honda participated in CES for the first time in 10 years. Based on that, more than 800 companies contacted us, and we have begun some initiatives toward joint creation.
Today, we would like to tell you about Honda's passion toward robotics and the robotics society Honda is striving to realize. And to attain such a robotics society, Honda wants to proactively pursue collaboration with experts like all of you who are here today.
Hollywood movies are popular everywhere, including Japan. And I watch quite a few of them. There are some exceptions, but many movies show robotics as cold things, and sometimes as things that are in conflict with people.
However, for Honda, robotics are not cold things. At Honda, we view robotics not as something in conflict with people but that expand the potential of people. This way of thinking is natural to us because, ever since our foundation, Honda has been studying "people" based on our belief that "the purpose of technology is to help people."
Including such things as a delivery service by drone and supportive care needed in an aging society, we have entered an era when robotics will become increasingly visible and essential in our everyday lives.
With our robotics, Honda is striving to realize a society that emphasizes the greatness of people. To realize such a society that Honda envisions – the key words are Empower, Experience and Empathy.
The concept is that robotic devices expand people's potential by achieving a mutual empathy and grow with people. At Honda, we call this the 3E Concept, and we are pursuing our robotics research and development under this concept.
I would like to share one of the examples where the 3E Concept was embodied. We began lease sales of the Honda Walking Assist in Japan. The Honda Walking Assist is more than just a power assist device. It is a device which helps the user recover the ability to walk by bringing out the capability they already have. The amount of assistance the device provides is adjusted to fit the level of each person's recovery. In other words, the device grows together with people and expands the potential of people.
The Honda Walking Assist is just one example of technologies Honda can create only because we persist in studying people based on our belief that "the purpose of technology is to help people."
Honda is a company that puts people at the core of everything we do based on our belief that "technology is for people." This is true in both our existing motorcycle, automobile, power products and HondaJet businesses, and in new areas we are going to pursue.
At this year's CES, we are introducing things that Honda has been developing based on this belief.
Now, to introduce our technologies, let me bring to the stage Mr. Wakitani from R&D Center X who leads Honda's research and development efforts in new areas.
Tsutomu Wakitani, Operating Officer of Honda R&D Co. in charge of Honda R&D Center X
Good morning, everyone!
You might think R&D Center X is a funny name, but the X represents Experiment, Exploration and Exciting. We adopted this name with an image of "research into undiscovered areas." Toward this goal, R&D Center X will focus on four areas – Mobility, Robotics, Energy Management and AI.
In recent years, the rapid popularization of digital technologies has changed our society and everyday lives. We believe that technologies such as the Internet of Things and AI will be an effective means to make our society and everyday lives better.
By crossing such technologies with robotics, one of Honda's strengths, we want to realize a robotics society that emphasizes the greatness of people. If we try to achieve this in the conventional way of developing technologies independently in a closed environment, it takes too much time.
In order to address this challenge with speed, R&D Center X has made "open innovation" one of the guidelines for our activities. And we are participating in CES to call for such open innovation.
As Mr. Matsumoto said, we are pursuing our robotics research and development under the 3E Concept, working toward the realization of a robotics society that emphasizes the greatness of people.
At Honda, when we talk about robotics, we are not thinking of stand-alone devices that work independently. Instead, we are thinking about multiple devices that work together as a system.
At first glance, some items we are showing this year may look like mere mobility products, but they are robotics devices, and multiple units of these devices function as a robotics cluster, which will eventually help realize the robotics society envisioned by Honda.
Now, I would like to take this opportunity to explain to you a little more about our 3E Concept using items included in this year's exhibit.
3E-D18 is a concept model of an electric platform, equipped with various attachments to support people who work at various locations and situations. This could include wildfire, use on a ranch, or on a construction site. D18 is an example of the concept of "Empower."
Rather than looking at people and robotics devices as competing for jobs, this means robotics devices and people work together while leveraging each other's strengths. By letting robotics devices support people, people will have more time and greater energy, which can be dedicated toward new directions.
For example, by using various attachments, D18 can be useful for people at various locations and situations.
3E-C18 was designed on the assumption that it will sell or offer various items to people. But it is also capable of learning by observing how people act. At the same time, people will learn something while interacting with robots. This is especially true for children, who can think more flexibly than adults.
C18 is an example of the concept of "Experience", the idea that people grow by experiencing something completely new thank to robotics. And robotic devices also learn from people, grow their capabilities and become even more valuable.
3E-A18 is a concept model of a robot that we can touch and communicate with. After the major earthquake struck the eastern part of Japan in 2011, to cheer people up in the affected areas, Honda sent our humanoid robot ASIMO to elementary and middle schools. Children enjoyed watching ASIMO with their eyes shining and they all wanted to touch ASIMO. Unfortunately, ASIMO was not designed with the idea of coming into contact with people.
Based on this experience, we came up with a robot that we can touch, hug and feel each other's presence. That is A18 and it is an example of the concept of "Empathy." The idea behind this concept is that robotics devices have compassion toward people, achieve a mutual empathy with people, and provide support for people's activities.
To realize this concept, it is essential that we apply AI which cooperates with people. And we are pursuing research into this type of AI.
The key to the 3E Concept is that the technologies and systems we develop must be safe, stress-free for people, and able to stand close to people. The A18 is designed so that if people bump into it, they will not get injured and A18 will not fall down.
To achieve this future, we applied balance control technology and an omni-traction drive system, based on Honda's longstanding robotics research.
I will give you another example. The B18 we are showing today is a "work-in-progress" based on the concept of creating a robotics device that can "follow people's intention naturally without creating any uncomfortable feeling and without requiring the user to make any special movement."
We will strive to realize a society that emphasizes the greatness of people by applying these technologies and creating robotics devices able to stand close to people more naturally.
Finally, let me say that Honda's focus is not only on providing robotics and mobility products.
We also are pursing energy management, which will become a foundation for the realization of the 3E Concept. This includes how we generate and use the energy that power our products.
The Honda Mobile Power Pack we brought to CES is one such example. This is a platform which enables us to store electricity generated using renewable energy. We can then use the electricity when and where we need it.
This will further expand the convenience of electrified mobility products and help to supply electricity to areas without it. This will bring new value to people's lives.
"The Power of Dreams" is the corporate slogan of Honda. It means both big new ideas and the determination to make them come true.
We are not talking about just one dream. Our passion is to realize the dreams of Honda associates and everyone involved with Honda. Fueled by such passion, we will work toward a robotics society that emphasizes the greatness of people.
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