Honda and SoftBank Team Up for New Connected Car Project

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Collaboration will look at ways to add SoftBank’s humanoid robotic technology to cars.

Remember the 80s TV series Knight Rider? The co-star of the show was a car that talked to its driver. That could become reality.

At an event in Tokyo, global manufacturing giant Honda and Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank announced they are teaming up in a new collaboration designed to bring AI to connected cars. The goal is to find ways to add SoftBank’s robot technology to cars. Dubbed Pepper, the company’s robot is not mobile, but it can converse with people and recognize their moods.  Honda has its own robot, Asimo, that can run, dance and grab things, but isn’t good at interaction. The companies hope their collaboration will find a way to combine the strengths of both in a new kind of connected car.

“Imagine if robots, with their super intelligence, devoted themselves to humans,” SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said, according to Reuters. “And imagine that cars themselves became supercomputers or robots one day. Honda will be the first to adopt this technology.”

According to a post on Honda’s website, they plan to use speech analysis, cameras and sensors to sense the driver’s emotions, which will enable the car’s robot technology to  converse with the driver. This could be as simple as helping them park or more complex tasks, such as providing companionship on a long road trip.

Honda plans to open an R&D Innovation Lab in Tokyo this fall. Their joint research with Softbank will be one of the AI tech initiatives they’ll pursue there, the company stated.

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Sue Walsh

About Sue Walsh

Sue Walsh is News Writer for RTInsights, and a freelance writer and social media manager living in New York City. Her specialties include tech, security and e-commerce. You can follow her on Twitter at @girlfridaygeek.

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