Global manufacturing giant Honda and Japanese telecommunications company SoftBank have announced that they are to partner in a new collaboration designed to bring artificial intelligence (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.
Honda and SoftBank will work on developing technology that allows a vehicle to analyze speech through the use cameras and in-car sensor, as well as gauge the driver’s emotions, engage in conversation, or offer assistance. A car that could communicate with its driver at this level could help with parking or provide company on a long trip.
Earlier this year, SoftBank said that a new version of Pepper powered by IBM’s supercomputer Watson would soon roll out.
According to Reuters, SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son said
“Imagine if robots, with their super intelligence, devoted themselves to humans and imagine that cars themselves became supercomputers or robots one day. Honda will be the first to adopt this technology.”
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.