3E: Empathy, Experience and Empower 

Did you know that Honda is responsible for the worlds most advanced humanoid robot? It’s true. “ASIMO” as he is called, looks much like a boy in a space suit and his latest iteration can run in circles, play soccer, serve drinks and even traverse stairs carrying a tray of snacks. In one particularly impressive demonstration he was given the job of delivering mail within an office building and if employees wore ID tags his sensors could identify, he would greet them as he walked by.

As impressive as ASIMO is, Honda is not putting all of their eggs in one basket. Recently, Honda unveiled its new 3E (Empower, Experience, Empathy) Robotics Concepts at CES 2018, demonstrating a range of experimental technologies engineered to advance mobility and make people’s lives better. Expressing a variety of functions and designs, the advanced robotic concepts demonstrate Honda’s vision of a society where robotics and AI can assist people in many situations, such as disaster recovery, recreation and learning from human interaction to become more helpful and empathetic.

“We have entered an era when robotics will become increasingly visible and essential in our everyday lives and have the ability to unlock human potential.” Stated Honda R&D chief Yoshiyuki Matsumoto.

As part of the 3E Robotics Concept, Honda revealed:

a companion robotics concept that shows compassion to humans with a variety of facial expressions. This curious, lightbulb-shaped autonomous robot features soft “skin” that “invites people to touch or hug” it and the little robot is specifically optimized for supporting people in their daily lives, such as serving as a guide at airports or shopping malls

a chair-type mobility concept designed for casual use in indoor or outdoor spaces designed to help support people with baggage carts or strollers.

a small-sized electric mobility concept with multi-functional cargo space known as the Experience robot. It can supposedly learn by observing peoples’ actions and features a cart-like design optimized for carrying cargo/inventory, as well as a canopy combined with a compact-sized vehicle body base with a driving function.

an autonomous off-road vehicle concept with AI designed to support people in a broad range of work activities an autonomous off-road vehicle with AI designed to support people in a broad range of work activities

In addition to the suite of robotics concepts shown at CES, Honda showcased its Mobile Power Pack World, which includes a portable, swappable battery pack for electric vehicles, and a recharging system for use at home, recreation or during a natural disaster. The Mobile Power Pack World also exhibited a battery exchanger concept that can store and charge mobile power packs.

While Honda hasn’t confirmed if any of the concepts will be produced, their commitment to human-robot integration suggests it won’t be long before similar concepts will be openly available. Of the four concepts shown at CES, which is your favourite?