In The News
Honda's Blue Skies for Our Children: Rallying Cry Still Rings True
Published June 20, 2011
Honda has adopted a global environmental slogan -- Blue Skies for Our Children -- to inspire our company to achieve new targets we have established to reduce CO2 emissions from our products and the operations that produce them. These words arouse strong emotions in Honda engineers, and take me back to a time four decades ago when the same phrase served as the rallying cry for Honda's first effort to tackle a challenging environmental issue.
I joined Honda as a young engineer in 1976. What attracted me, as with so many Honda customers and fans, was a brand that showed a can-do spirit in creating something the rest of the auto industry argued couldn't be done – a vehicle with cleaner emissions and high fuel economy that was also fun to drive.
This vehicle was the Honda Civic – and it had something else that was truly revolutionary -- CVCC engine technology, for Compound Vortex Combustion Controlled. That's a mouthful of complex engineering, but what CVCC helped create is simpler -- a lean burn engine that made Civic the first car to meet the stringent tailpipe emissions standards of the U.S. Clean Air Act without the need for after treatment of the exhaust. The Civic CVCC was also #1 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) very first list of the most fuel efficient vehicles in America.
Based on his own belief in the importance of advancing mobility to address the issue of environmental sustainability, Honda founder Soichiro Honda pulled our company out of Formula One racing in 1969 in order to devote Honda's full engineering resources to developing advanced environmental technologies. He then challenged Honda engineers to create a cleaner-burning engine to address air pollution – which was then the most serious environmental sustainability issue facing the automobile industry.
Honda engineers were reading reports about the serious impact pollution would have on the health of children. A group of doctors in Japan published a report about high levels of lead in the blood streams of children. The Club of Rome, founded in Italy in April 1968 by a small international group of academics, scientists, government and industry leaders, focused global attention on negative environmental consequences, forecasting limits to human expansion within less than 100 years if no major change in society occurred. In 1970, Congress passed the 1970 Clean Air Act, creating stringent new emissions standards and the U.S. government created the EPA.
Mr. Honda saw this as a great way to compete against more established companies. But Honda engineers suggested that their real motivation and goal was to ensure "Blue Skies for Our Children," in other words, to ensure the future of mobility and the health of the planet for future generations. This phrase became the team's rallying cry in the effort to find and develop technology that could improve air quality.
Mr. Honda was proud that his engineers had looked at this challenge as more than a competitive challenge. With a great deal of passion and energy, the team of Honda engineers addressed the challenge of sustainable mobility. And this led to the breakthrough with the CVCC engine that powered the Honda Civic. When I learned of these events, it helped deepen my appreciation that the purpose of our technology was to help people and society. That certainly made Honda a company I wanted to contribute my best efforts to.
In the ensuing years, Honda continued to advance its engine technologies. Over the past four decades, we led the global auto industry in meeting a series of increasingly stringent tailpipe emissions requirements, starting with the first gasoline-powered Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) in the hands of consumers, sparking an era of fundamental improvements to air quality. Of course, we were proud to be first, but Honda's strategy for reducing emissions was something of our gift to the world. We provided the auto industry with a practical and economical pathway to reducing exhaust emissions on a broad scale that no one thought possible. At the same time, we have been a consistent leader in fuel-efficiency, topping fuel-economy rankings for 22 of the past 36 years
Today, the challenge of environmental sustainability is much broader than air pollution – encompassing numerous energy and environmental issues, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (primarily CO2) that contribute to global climate change and the transition from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy, among other issues.
But I am excited that Honda's environmental vision to pursue the joy of mobility and a sustainable society where people can enjoy life continues to be inspired by the original rallying cry of Honda engineers – something that Honda associates throughout our company embrace on a daily basis. Once again, our effort to achieve a challenging target to reduce CO2 emissions is guided by our mission to leave "Blue Skies for Our Children."Ben Knight
Honda R&D Americas, Inc _________________________________________
2012 Honda Insight Gains New Features, More Fuel Efficiency
Offering the highest fuel-efficiency of any vehicle priced under $20,000, the 2012 Honda Insight adds fresh features and even higher mileage ratings for the new model year, while still boasting an MSRP that starts at just $19,120.
Leading the way is a subtle, yet thorough, upgrade to the Insight’s aerodynamics. Thanks to restyled front and rear bumpers, along with changes made to improve airflow beneath the vehicle, the 2012 Insight is 2 percent slipperier than the past model, helping raise fuel-economy ratings .
Other exterior enhancements to the Insight include new headlight and brake light designs and wider tires for improved driving dynamics, as well as a revised grille with a thin, blue accent bar. This gives the new face of Honda’s dedicated five-door hybrid a more distinctive look that’s more in line with its tech-oriented personality.
The same approach informed changes to the Insight’s gauge-cluster background, too, which also reflects a more technically sophisticated approach to design. From a practical standpoint, the Insight benefits from redesigned back seats to deliver improved leg and head room for rear-seat passengers, while improvements to the car’s rear-wiper motor and rear spoiler provide the driver with notably better rear visibility. And all occupants will enjoy a quieter ride, due to the increased use of sound-absorbing insulation, as well as larger center-console beverage holders.
Model-specific upgrades for 2012 include:
- New 15-inch wheel covers (Insight and Insight LX)
- Restyled 15-inch alloy wheels (Insight EX)
- More supportive front armrests (Insight LX and EX)
- Improved premium seat fabric (Insight LX)
- Seats with upscale synthetic leather trim (Insight EX)
11/8/2011 1:17:00 AM
'Honda Robotics' Established as New Collective Name to Represent Honda Robotics Research and All Product Applications
autonomous behavior control technology. With a further advance in autonomy, the all-new ASIMO can now continue moving without being controlled by an operator. Moreover, with significantly improved intelligence and the physical ability to adapt to situations, ASIMO took another step closer to practical use in an office or a public space where many people come and go.
1Honda internal research as of Nov. 8, 2011
Since the establishment of the company, Honda has continued to take on new challenges in the effort to create new products and advance technologies with the spirit of utilizing technology to help people. In the area of humanoid robot research, Honda has been developing and advancing the ASIMO humanoid robot to realize a dream to be useful for people and to help enrich people's daily lives.
Honda has a newly established collective name, Honda Robotics, to represent all of its robotics technologies and product applications created through its research and development of humanoid robots. While continuing the research and development of humanoid robots, Honda will also focus on applying robotics technologies to mass-produced products and putting product applications into practical use.
Based on this concept of Honda Robotics, Honda also introduced an experimental model of a task-performing robot arm that was developed while applying multi-joint simultaneous orbit control and posture control technologies amassed through the research and development of ASIMO. This robot arm can be remotely controlled to perform tasks in unstable places which are difficult for people to access.
The all-new ASIMO is now advanced from an "automatic machine" to an "autonomous machine" with the decision-making capability to determine its behavior in concert with its surroundings such as movements of people. At the beginning of the development process, the following three factors were identified as necessary for a robot to perform as an autonomous machine, and the technologies required to realize these capabilities were developed; 1) high-level postural balancing capability which enables the robot to maintain its posture by putting out its leg in an instant, 2) external recognition capability which enables the robot to integrate information, such as movements of people around it, from multiple sensors and estimate the changes that are taking place, and 3) the capability to generate autonomous behavior which enables the robot to make predictions from gathered information and autonomously determine the next behavior without being controlled by an operator. With these capabilities, the all-new ASIMO takes another step closer to practical use in an environment where it coexists with people.
1. Advancement of intelligence capability
Honda has developed a new system that is a fundamental technology for advanced intelligence, which comprehensively evaluates inputs from multiple sensors that are equivalent to the visual, auditory, and tactile senses of a human being, then estimates the situation of the surrounding environment and determines the corresponding behavior of the robot. With this technology, ASIMO became capable of responding to the movement of people and the surrounding situations. For instance, ASIMO will stop its current action and change its behavior to accommodate the intention of the other party. Moreover, coordination between visual and auditory sensors enables ASIMO to simultaneously recognize a face and voice, enabling ASIMO to recognize the voices of multiple people who are speaking simultaneously, which is difficult even for a human being to accomplish.
Further, ASIMO is now capable of predicting the direction a person will walk within the next few seconds based on information from pre-set space sensors and quickly determining to take an alternate path to avoid a collision with the person if the estimated locations of the person and the ASIMO intersect.
2. Advancement of physical capability
The combination of strengthened legs, an expanded range of leg movement and a newly developed control technology that enables ASIMO to change landing positions in the middle of a motion has enabled ASIMO to walk, run, run backward, hop on one leg or on two legs continuously. As a result of acquiring the ability to make such agile motions, ASIMO has become capable of more flexibly adapting to changing external situations so that it can, as an example, walk over an uneven surface while maintaining a stable posture.
3. Improved task-performing capability
Honda has developed a highly functional compact multi-fingered hand, which has a tactile sensor and a force sensor imbedded on the palm and in each finger, respectively, and which acts to control each finger independently. Combined with the object recognition technology based on visual and tactile senses, this multi-fingered hand enables the all-new ASIMO to perform tasks with dexterity, such as picking up a glass bottle and twisting off the cap, or holding a soft paper cup to pour a liquid without squishing it. Moreover, ASIMO is now capable of making sign language expressions which require the complex movement of fingers.
|Key specifications of the all-new ASIMO|
|1. Height||130 cm|
|2. Weight||48kg (decreased 6kg from previous model)|
3. Operating degrees
|Total: 57 degrees of freedom (increase of 23 degrees of freedom from previous model)|
|4. Running Speed||9km/hour (previous model: 6km/hour)|
Establishing a collective name, Honda Robotics, to represent Honda's robotics technologies and product applications
Studying human beings to understand people and learn from people is the root of Honda's manufacturing. While positioning the humanoid robot research as one of the important pillars in the area of studying human beings, Honda has been working to realize various functions of a human being that is the ultimate mobility with intelligence.
Honda newly established a collective term, Honda Robotics, and the logo to represent Honda's robotics technologies and application products created through its research and development of humanoid robot represented by ASIMO.
In addition to the all-new ASIMO and the task-performing robot arm introduced today, the previously introduced the walking assist device with stride management system which supports walking for people with weakened leg muscles, the bodyweight support assist system which reduces the load on legs by supporting part of the bodyweight, and the U3-X, a compact one-wheel-drive mobility device that provides free movement in all directions, are examples of product applications resulting from the application of bipedal technology and balance control technology amassed through the research and development of ASIMO.
Striving to offer next-generation mobility products which expand the joy and fun of mobility, Honda will continue the robotics research that leads to ASIMO, walking assist devices, U3-X and other technologies. In addition, Honda will also work proactively toward putting such product applications into practical use.
Task-performing Robot Arm
Technologies developed for ASIMO were applied to an experimental model of a task-performing robot arm, which moves on a self-propelled base and was designed under the assumption of being utilized at disaster sites or other places too dangerous for people to work. Toward this end, the robot arm was made possible to be remotely controlled to approach the object and stably perform necessary tasks even in a narrow space with unstable footing and many obstacles.
The stability control technology used for ASIMO's walking and running was applied to stabilize the posture of the end of the arm even on an unstable surface so that the robot arm can exert the necessary power output to perform the task. Moreover, the application of other ASIMO technologies such as the compact layout structural designing technique and multi-joint simultaneous orbit control technology that simultaneously controls as many as 57 motors imbedded in the joints of the arms and legs has enabled the robot arm to avoid obstacles and approach an object even in a narrow space with obstacles such as a complicated layout of pipelines.
In the development process, the robot arm is designed to perform the task of opening and closing valves on pipelines; however, it will become capable of performing a variety of tasks by changing the end piece of the arm.
|Key specifications of the task-performing robot arm|
|1. Length||1583 mm (arm length)|
|3. Depth||391mm (base)|
|5. Operating degrees
|10 degrees of freedom (including the end piece of the arm)|
Honda Odyssey Earns Second Straight ‘All-Star’ Honor
The annual Automobile Magazine All-Stars are often picked from the upper echelons of the industry, with this year’s team including cars like the Audi TT RS, Ferrari 458 Italia and Spyder, and Porsche Boxster and Cayman—and the 2012 Honda Odyssey. And not only is the Odyssey the only minivan on the All-Star team, but it’s now made the squad two years in a row.
Plenty of credit goes to the Odyssey’s interior, which is versatile enough to hold up to eight passengers or multiple 4’ x 8’ pieces of plywood. In addition, as Automobile Magazine’s Phil Floraday points out, the 2012 Odyssey also “raises the standard” for rear-seat entertainment system. The range-topping Odyssey Touring Elite boasts an integrated setup with a 16.2-inch LCD monitor that can display output from two different sources on the same split screen, along with a 12-speaker, 650-watt audio system with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound.
“However, what really makes the Honda Odyssey stand out from the rest of the minivan segment is how well it drives while executing the usual chores,” according to Floraday. “Steering weight and feel are about as good as it gets for a van, as are ride and handling. Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management system enables the 3.5-liter V6 to run on as few as three cylinders.”
That’s best-in-class highway fuel economy that is higher than in the four-cylinder rival from Toyota. Also best-in-class are the Odyssey’s safety ratings, as it was the first—and remains the only—minivan to achieve both a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Top Safety Pick status from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).