Honda marked the opening of its new Silicon Valley R&D facility, using the occasion to unveil a refreshed 2016 Accord featuring Honda's first application of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Honda also announced a new open innovation R&D initiative, Honda Xcelerator, which will provide resources to breakthrough technology innovators to help rapidly develop prototypes with the potential to transform the automotive experience.
Honda's Silicon Valley operation, which was first established in 2000, is charged with researching and prototyping game-changing innovations and harnessing new ideas and technology. Current areas of focus include connected mobility, novel human-machine interfaces, supporting app developers through initiatives like Honda Developer Studio and computer science research for vehicle intelligence. Silicon Valley engineers also spearhead the company's working relationship with Silicon Valley-based technology companies.
"As an industry, we are on the verge of some major transformational changes brought on by the convergence of what have been, to this point, largely disparate technology disciplines," said Honda R&D Americas President,Frank Paluch. "Honda will embrace and help lead this convergence. Our operations in Silicon Valley are a testimony to our focus on this new direction in our product and technology development efforts."
Leveraging technology created in Silicon Valley, the 2016 Accord will be the first Honda model and among the first high-volume cars in the marketplace to feature both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, among major upgrades that will make the 2016 Accord the most high-tech Accord in history. For model year 2016, the reigning best-selling car in California also will receive Honda Sensing™, the comprehensive suite of safety and driver-assistive technologies that helps reduce driver workload and avoid or mitigate the severity of a vehicle collision. Honda Sensing also serves as both a technological and perceptual bridge to the highly automated cars of the future. Honda is the first major automaker to publicly reveal a high-volume model in Silicon Valley.
Honda's Silicon Valley unit will spearhead a new initiative – Honda Xcelerator – designed to engage innovators and help them more rapidly commercialize breakthrough technologies. The program provides funding for proof-of-concept prototyping and the opportunity to work directly alongside Honda engineers in Silicon Valley in a collaborative workspace, as well as pairing with Honda mentors. Innovators will also have the opportunity to pitch their technologies to Honda business units globally once their prototypes are developed. Interested innovators should visit the new Honda Xcelerator website at xcelerator.hondasvl.com to learn more.
Expanding the open innovation theme, Honda announced the upcoming release of a remote API for the HondaUNI-CUB, a unique personal mobility device that features Honda's original balance control technology and an omni-directional driving wheel system. Beginning in the fall, this new remote API will allow developers to control UNI-CUB from external devices and develop new use cases for UNI-CUB. The UNI-CUB API will be released by the Honda Developer Studio.
Today, Honda demonstrated several advanced technologies under three distinct themes: Future Technology, Open Innovation and Honda Dreams.
- The Future Technology section included a demonstration of the ability for sensor fusion technology – the combination of disparate sensor data – to accurately detect and predict bicyclist and pedestrian movement from a significant distance.
- The Open Innovation section included a novel demonstration of rear seat entertainment in a virtual reality world. The demo uses a virtual reality headset to transport passengers into a virtual world featuring Honda products on the land, sea and air. As the test vehicle moves, the passenger synchronously glides through the virtual environment.
- In the Honda Dreams section, several units of the Honda UNI-CUB were on-hand for guests to test.