Honda's unique vision of autonomous cars will be showcased at CES next month.
Automakers have been envisioning a future with autonomous cars that have no steering wheel or pedals. Last year, for example, GM unveiled the Cruise AV based on the Chevrolet Bolt that will be used in a driverless ride-hailing service. Honda, on the other hand, is taking a different approach and wants to literally reinvent the steering wheel. At next month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Honda will showcase its new Augmented Driving Concept designed to "address the cultural transition to autonomous vehicles."
Honda believes customers will be able to "enjoy mobility in new ways when freed from the responsibility of driving" but acknowledges they "may still want to experience the emotion and thrill of driving." Combining the best of both worlds, Honda's Augmented Driving Concept features a seamless transition from autonomous to semi-autonomous driving.
The car's autonomous driving system is constantly on standby ready to control the vehicle when needed and can be changed between automatic and manual mode with a switch. Honda's Augmented Driving Concept features more than eight modes between fully autonomous and semi-autonomous operation. Various sensors continuously monitor the user's intention to smoothly shift between these modes to create an "instinctive driving experience."
While the concept essentially looks like a convertible version of the Honda E, the driving experience is radically different thanks to the unique steering wheel. Patting the steering wheel twice starts the vehicle, pulling it will slow the car down, and pushing it will control the car's acceleration. Honda will be offering simulated demonstrations of the Augmented Driving Concept at CES.
Honda's ESMO (Electric Smart Mobility) scooter concept will also make its US debut at CES. In addition, Honda will showcase its new Honda Mobile Power Pack, a portable, swappable, rechargeable battery that has an output of 1kWh or more. When multiple packs are used simultaneously, they can be used to power electric motorcycles, small-sized electric mobility products, and supply of electricity in people's homes.
Honda will also demonstrate the latest developments of its 'Safe Swarm and 'Smart Intersection' safety system. Using V2X technology, Honda Safe Swarm allows vehicles to communicate with surrounding vehicles and share key information such as location and speed. The 'Smart Intersection' technology, on the other hand, utilizes Honda's proprietary object recognition software in conjunction with intersection-mounted cameras and V2X communications. This enables cars to virtually see through and around buildings and walls in nearly all weather conditions to alert drivers to hidden hazards.