Alasdair Whyte

Honda’s new aircraft

Yesterday Honda announced three ludicrously cool projects including a new aircraft.

By 2030 the company aims to launch: a new hybrid vertical take-off aircraft; a robot that enables people to have a physical second self; and a space division making rockets and an energy system for people living on the Moon. Each of these is fascinating.

Let’s start with the vertical aircraft. Which is less of a surprise. Other car manufacturers – including Hyundai (which has an impressive Urban Air Mobility (UAM) division, Toyota (a key investor in Joby Aviation one of the industry leaders) and GM (with a Cadillac eVTOL) – are already invested in electric vertical aircraft.

As the only carmaker with its own aircraft manufacturer, many have been waiting for Honda to join in. The company says it will benefit from the knowledge it has got from its HondaJet; its Formula One car racing team, its engines business and its electric, hybrid and autonomous cars.

The choice of a hybrid engine – rather than pure electric – sets it apart from many of the leading electric vertical aircraft projects. The company says that it does not believe batteries are yet ready but will eventually have an all-electric version. It is not clear if the engine will be created by the GE Honda Aero Engines joint venture.

Honda says that it is hoping for certification before 2030. This may seem ambitious (although it is unclear how long it has been working on the project) until you compare it to its other plans. By the same year, it is also hoping to be using water on the Moon and solar power to create a circular energy system that also provides oxygen for Moon dwellers. Honda is also working on renewable rockets and space robots.

The physical self-robot is also amazing. It enables users to make a robot perform the same movements as themselves. This means that a doctor could physically perform first aid despite being thousands of miles away. Its demonstration shows the robot holding a squeezy mustard bottle. Perfect for hot dog van owners who have gone off the smell of onions.

Honda aims to create a new mobility ecosystem, featuring Honda eVTOL at its core.

 

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