Honda, Softbank developing cars with emotionsPOSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 26 July 2016
HONDA is developing artificial intelligence for its cars that could create an emotional bond between its cars and drivers in partnership with Softbank Corp, the company announced.
Research will be aimed at applying the “emotion engine,” an artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed by cocoro SB Corp., a SoftBank Group company, for mobility products.
The “emotion engine” is a set of AI technologies that enable machines to generate their own emotions. Softbank describes the technology as humanoid robotic technology.
In order to further enhance open innovation in the area of intelligent technologies, Honda has been preparing to start up the Honda R&D Innovation Lab Tokyo, a new operation that will focus on research and development of intelligent technologies, in Akasaka, Tokyo, by around September of this year.
This joint research project with SoftBank will be one of the open innovation initiatives Honda will pursue in the area of AI technologies.
Through this joint research project, Honda and SoftBank will strive to enable mobility products to use conversations with the driver, together with other information obtained from various sensors and cameras installed on the mobility product, both to perceive the emotions of the driver and to engage in dialogue with the driver based on the vehicle’s own emotions.
The companies say that the technology will enable drivers to experience the feeling that their mobility product has become a good partner and thus form a stronger emotional attachment toward it.
The announcement comes after SoftBank on Monday agreed to buy British chip designer ARM Holdings, which Son believes will play a central role in the tech industry’s shift to the ‘internet of things’ (IoT).
Speaking at an event in Tokyo, Softbank and Honda described a future in which Honda cars could speak and interact with their drivers via cloud-based technology based on SoftBank’s “Pepper” robot, a life-sized robot that can read human emotions.
“Imagine if robots, with their super intelligence, devoted themselves to humans,” Son said.
“And imagine that cars themselves became supercomputers or robots one day. Honda will be the first to adopt this technology.”
The two companies would research ways to assess a driver’s speech, along with other data compiled by vehicle sensors and cameras, to gauge the driver’s emotions and allow the vehicle to engage in conversation.
As a result, vehicles would be able to offer advice and support to drivers, such as during challenging driving or parking situations, while also providing company to drivers on long, solitary trips.
Honda, Japan’s No. 3 automaker by vehicle sales, has been expanding research into artificial intelligence technology.