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Honda & Softbank are ready to launch robotic technology cars

Published: July 25, 2016 | Tokyo, Japan

After successful acquisition of ARM Holdings, Masayoshi Son, founder of Softbank Corporation is now eyeing to invent a technology that can read driver’s emotions.  The company is in talks with automaker Honda to begin a joint research project toward application of the “emotion engine,” an artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

At a recent event in Tokyo, both of the companies announced their plans to develop a cloud-based technology based on Softbank’s Pepper robot, which is a life-sized robot that can read human emotions and act according to them. The companies are planning to do so by detecting driver’s speech, along with other data compiled by vehicle sensors and cameras. Getting into these emotions will help the robot to recognize any emotion and talk to the driver if they are not feeling good.

The vision provides a chance for the driver to never feel lonely and if they are driving alone on long trips they are accompanied by someone. As a result, this technology offer advice and support to drivers, such as during challenging driving or parking situations.

SoftBank
Pepper by SoftBank

According to an update by Reuters, Softbank has been making an aggressive push into AI, robotics and the “internet of things (IoT),” a network of devices, vehicles and building sensors that collect, exchange and feed data into AI and robots. Moreover, by letting mobility products “grow up” while sharing various experiences with their drivers, the project will strive to enable drivers to experience the feeling that their mobility product has become a good partner and thus form a stronger emotional attachment toward it.

Through this joint research project, Honda and Softbank will strive to enable mobility products to utilize conversations with the driver, together with other information obtained from various sensors and cameras installed on the mobility product, both to perceive the emotions of the driver and to engage in dialogue with the driver based on the vehicle’s own emotions.

Apart from that, Honda has been preparing to start up the Honda R&D Innovation Lab Tokyo, a new operation that will focus on research and development of intelligent technologies, in Akasaka, Tokyo, by around September of this year. This joint research project with Softbank will be one of the open innovation initiatives Honda will pursue in the area of AI technologies.

Talking about such technologies, these two companies are not the only one that have innovated the next level of Artificial Intelligence. When we go back in 2013, Toyota introduced the FV2, which is a single-occupancy concept car that can read voice and facial expressions. Furthermore, Bentley has a facial-recognition app that reads customers emotions.

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