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Honda reveals more details about its companion mobility robots

The company just needs some help actually building them.
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Honda

They're really (mostly) real! At CES in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Honda officially debuted its four newest mobility and companionship robots, part of the company's 3E (Empower, Experience, Empathy) program. Though they are currently only in the conceptual stage, Honda plans to develop the platforms with a variety of like-minded partners as part of the company's "open innovation" approach.

Honda’s 3E-D18 is an autonomous off-road robotic device with AI designed to support people in a broad range of work activities.

First up, we've got the 3E-D18, an autonomous off-road vehicle designed for rugged applications -- everything from backcountry search and rescue to agriculture -- the more mundane and time-consuming, the better. Based on Honda's existing ATV chassis, the D18 is expected to feature all-wheel drive and virtually indestructible airless tires, enabling it to scrabble over nearly any obstacle.

Honda’s 3E-C18 features AI technology enabling it to learn by observing people’s actions.

The 3E-C18 is more of a robotic pack mule, albeit less adventurous than the D18. Designed for indoor and outdoor use, the C18 can carry cargo as well as leverage machine learning to operate autonomously by observing how the humans around it behave.

Honda’s 3E-B18 is designed for casual use in indoor or outdoor spaces.

Similarly, the 3E-B18 can operate indoors or out, but is built to carry more delicate items, like humans. The B18 is specifically designed to operate within tight pedestrian confines of modern city sidewalks and can be utilized to port everything from your luggage to your kids to yourself.

Honda’s 3E-A18 displays simple and easy-to-understand facial expressions with a friendly design.

The 3E-A18 isn't designed to carry your stuff so much as support your mental and emotional well-being -- it's a natural-built helper. Honda envisions the A18 serving in malls and airport, helping shoppers and travellers with directions and guidance, as well as understanding the needs of the people it's interacting with and responding accordingly. And rather than a cold metallic shell, this robotic service animal will offer a soft, pliable skin and communicate using simple facial expressions.

And, not to be outdone by the likes of Tesla, Honda also showed off its vision for its Mobile Power Pack, a portable, rechargeable battery. These Power Packs can hold a 1kWh charge and be daisy-chained together to provide as much electricity as necessary for the job at hand -- whether it's an electric motorcycle, the D18 ATV, or the green energy-powered home of the future. And, since the Packs are hot-swappable, there's no downtime when one runs out of juice. Just flip it out for a fresh battery and you're good to go.

There isn't even a real need to recharge the dead cells yourself. Honda envisions a future where you simply walk to an "Exchanger" on the corner and trade in your depleted Power Packs for freshly charged ones.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from CES 2018.

In this article: autonomous, ces2018, gear, honda, mobility, robots

Andrew has lived in San Francisco since 1982 and has been writing clever things about technology since 2011. When not arguing the finer points of portable vaporizers and military defense systems with strangers on the internet, he enjoys tooling around his garden, knitting and binge watching anime.

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