Honda builds much more than cars and trucks — power equipment, solar cells, industrial robotics, alternative fuel engines and even aircraft are all part of the company's production capacity. On Thursday, Honda announced that it is working to further expand its manufacturing portfolio to include Avatar-style remote telepresence robots and electric VTOLs for inter- and intracity commutes before turning its ambitions to building a fuel-cell driven power generation system for the lunar surface.

For its eVTOL, Honda plans to leverage not only the lithium battery technology it's developed for its EV and PHEV vehicles but also a gas turbine hybrid power unit to give the future aircraft enough range to handle regional inter-city flights as well. Honda foresees air taxis as a ubiquitous part of tomorrow's transportation landscape, seamlessly integrating with both autonomous ground vehicles and traditional airliners (though they could soon be flown by robots as well). Obviously, the program is still very much in the early research phase and will likely remain so until at least the second half of this decade. The company anticipates having prototype units available for testing and certification by the 2030s and a full commercial rollout sometime around 2040.

Honda will have plenty of competition if and when it does get its eVTOLs off the ground. Cadillac showed off its single-seater aircar earlier this year, while Joby (in partnership with NASA) already has full-scale mockups flying. In June, Slovakian transportation startup, Klein Vision, flew from Nitra and to the Bratislava airport in its inaugural inter-city flight — and then drove home after the event. But building a fleet of flying taxis is no easy feat — just ask Bell helicopters — and we're sure to see more companies drop out of the sector before eVTOLs become commonplace.

honda, evtol, jaxa, energy, space, avatar, mobility, gear, news, asimo

Carlo Allegri / reuters

Honda reps also discussed the company's future robotics aspirations during a media briefing on Wednesday. The company envisions a future where people are unencumbered by space and time, where telepresence robots have visual and tactile acuity rivalling that of humans. Rather than hopping on a plane to inspect remote factory floors or attend product demonstrations in person, tomorrow's workers may simply don VR headsets and step into the body of an on-site humanoid robot.

The company announced that it wants its Avatar Robot — a newly refined iteration of the Asimo (above) — put into practical use in the 2030s and will conduct technology demonstration testing by the end of Q1, 2024 in order to meet that goal. But before that happens Honda reps noted that the company has work to do downsizing the robot's hand hardware and improving its grasping dexterity.

honda, evtol, jaxa, energy, space, avatar, mobility, gear, news, asimo

JAXA/Honda

Honda also has big plans for its space ventures including working on ways to adapt its existing fuel cell and high differential pressure water electrolysis technologies to work on the lunar surface as part of a circulative renewable energy system.

This system would use electricity gathered from renewable energy sources (like solar) to break the molecular bonds of liquid water, resulting hydrogen and oxygen. Those two elements would then be run through Honda's fuel cell to generate both electricity and supply the lunar habitats with oxygen for breathing and hydrogen for rocket fuel.

The company also hopes to utilize the more-nimble Avatar hands its developing as manipulators on a fleet of remote controlled lunar rovers which will perform tasks on the lunar surface rather than subject astronauts to the moon's many dangers. Honda has partnered with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and began joint research into both of these systems in June.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Internet Explorer Channel Network


LATEST NEWS

NEWS RELATED

China's power crisis sends magnesium prices skyward, choking supply chain and leaving Europe desperate

After years of stable prices, magnesium costs have skyrocketed while a shortage of the metal is choking downstream users in its supply chain, especially the global automotive industry. And it appears that China’s power crisis and subsequent crackdown on energy-intensive industries is largely to blame. China has almost a complete…

Read more: China's power crisis sends magnesium prices skyward, choking supply chain and leaving Europe desperate

What do rising energy prices mean for inflation in China and the US?

Energy and commodity prices have soared since the pandemic began and are fuelling concerns that elevated inflation levels are here to stay. Higher energy prices have already translated into higher input costs, especially for energy-intensive manufacturers in places like China. As debate continues on whether the global economy is heading…

Read more: What do rising energy prices mean for inflation in China and the US?

$2.35 billion tidal lagoon project with underwater turbines planned for UK

Plans for a £1.7 billion ($2.35 billion) project in the U.K. incorporating technologies including underwater turbines, floating solar power and battery storage have been announced, with those behind the development hoping it will generate thousands of jobs. The Blue Eden project, as it's known, would be located on the waterfront…

Read more: $2.35 billion tidal lagoon project with underwater turbines planned for UK

Why the next electric battery boom may be in cargo ships

A cargo ship filled with containers moves through New York Harbor as it heads out to the Atlantic ocean on October 12, 2021 in New York City.Spencer Platt | Getty Images The dozens of diesel-operated cargo ships floating off the coasts of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California aren't…

Read more: Why the next electric battery boom may be in cargo ships

Make the switch to cheaper renewable energy and stop wasting trillions on a system that is killing us

For decades, we at the Rocky Mountain Institute (now RMI) have argued that the transition to clean energy will cost less and proceed faster than governments, firms and many analysts expect. In recent years, this outlook has been fully vindicated: costs of renewables have consistently fallen faster than expected, while…

Read more: Make the switch to cheaper renewable energy and stop wasting trillions on a system that is killing us

China needs more coal to avert a power crisis — but it's not likely to turn to Australia for supply

A bucket-wheel reclaimer stands next to a pile of coal at the Port of Newcastle in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.David Gray | Bloomberg | Getty Images China is facing its worst power crisis in years due to a coal shortage. While Australia has the…

Read more: China needs more coal to avert a power crisis — but it's not likely to turn to Australia for supply

Central banks should resist hitting the panic button on inflation

Inflation expectations are suddenly becoming a problem, with the markets seemingly rattled about the prospect of higher prices becoming embedded, central banks ending up on a war footing and the end of easy money coming a lot sooner than expected. It’s really down to which side of the fence you…

Read more: Central banks should resist hitting the panic button on inflation

Bank of America names 13 stocks set to benefit from the supply chain crisis

These chipmakers are responsible for “the guts” of smartphones. “I particularly like Cypress for its Minority Report-style touch-screen tech,” Cramer says.Photo: MIXA | MIXA | Getty Images Bank of America's Europe strategists have named 13 stocks they expects to benefit from the world's ongoing supply chain crisis.

Read more: Bank of America names 13 stocks set to benefit from the supply chain crisis

Two ways Hong Kong must transform to achieve carbon neutrality

Why China's slow economic growth is a bigger headache than its energy crunch and Evergrande's debt crisis

'No commercial case for green hydrogen' yet: Siemens Energy CEO

Sustainable jet fuel targets could push food prices higher, Ryanair CEO O'Leary warns

Some firms are putting shareholders above the long-term future of humanity: Ex-Unilever CEO

Climate policies could spark an 'even worse' energy crisis, Saudi finance minister says

Russia chooses not to raise natural gas supplies to Europe despite Putin's pledge to help

Vestas to install prototype of world's 'tallest and most powerful wind turbine' in 2022

OTHER NEWS