2016 Honda Accord gains new look, more tech

24 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Honda Debuts 2016 Accord, Shows Off Sensor Research.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Honda is joining other big automakers such as Ford and BMW in shoring up its research and development beachhead in Silicon Valley. More dynamic, Acura-inspired styling, Honda Sensing safety and driver-assistive systems, and new infotainment with integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are some of the main highlights of 2016 Honda Accord. Not a new car line, we should clarify—just the 2016 Accord that Honda executives describe as “the most hi-tech Accord in history.” Appropriate, given the Silicon Valley tie-in.

Honda Xcelerator will provide funding and know-how to developers working on auto-related tech. “Silicon Valley is the hub, it’s the bleeding edge, and we want to be working in a fully collaborative mode with entrepreneurs and other companies with visions that share our own,” says Frank Paluch, president of Honda R&D Americas. Earlier this month, new Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo, signaled that he was putting advances in technology ahead of aggressive sales targets, the Journal reported.

Although Honda has staffed engineers in the area since 2000, the new facility will allow the team to grow as automotive manufacturers increasingly pack their wares with technology. The Tokyo-based company led Yokohama, Japan-based Nissan Motor Co. in U.S. sales for the first half by less than 0.2 percentage point of market share, 753,001 to 736,483, according to researcher Autodata Corp. “The real value is reducing collisions and fatalities,” he told reporters. “We hope to cut in half the number of collisions involving our vehicles by 2030 and to completely eliminate collisions by 2050.” Mr Hachigo had said that Honda will develop technologies on its own as much as possible but is open to considering cooperation with other auto makers if there are benefits. Eventually, both systems will roll out to the entire Honda line-up, allowing seamless iPhone and Android smartphone integration with an in-dash infotainment system. Honda didn’t unveil any pricing or timelines for the new 2016 Accord, but it will be the very first Honda vehicle to support both Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto.

To do that, Honda has launched a new open innovation program called Xcelerator which will offer funding, engineering support and resources to entrepreneurs to help them develop prototypes. Other features that are new to Accord – which continues its longtime duel with Toyota Camry for best-selling sedan honors, racking up sales of 380,000 in 2014 – include aggressive 19-inch wheels and a sleek new front fascia. Depending on the trim level, you get more standard equipment as well, such as SiriusXM satellite radio and Homelink remote, 60/40 split and folding rear seat, heated rear seats, front and rear parking sensors and rain-sensing wipers.

The new Accord gets the full-suite of Honda Sensing tech, which leverage sensors and software that help keep the car in its lane and even stop if it senses an object in its path. Such tech is part of a growing suite of driver-assist technology from a range of automakers that are a bridge between current vehicles and fully autonomous cars. That includes a collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, road departure mitigation, and lane departure warning, among other features. A few weeks ago American Honda Finance agreed to pay a $25 million fine after federal officials charged the lending institution with charging minorities higher rates for auto loans. By performing various gestures overtop a Leap Motion sensor, a driver could select a device—like a side mirror—and change its position by moving a hand around in mid-air.

Pointing to a nearby fan and twirling a finger also let a driver or passenger adjust its speed. (Insert your own Minority Report joke here.) Honda also ran live demonstrations of its work on pedestrian-sensing technologies. The issue of driver safety and connected cars was cast in a stark light this week when a Wired magazine article detailed how two security experts were able to successfully take control of the magazine’s vehicle by hacking into its infotainment system. Some 60% of cars are expected to have connected features by 2016. “We’re all going to share information, because while we remain in competition (for consumers) the key to security issues is collaboration,” says Schostek.

Among other technologies on display Thursday were a suite of Honda robotics coups, including its UNI-CUB, which looks like a small stool but acts like a Segway in that it intuitively reacts to a user’s body language to generate movement. In the parking lot of the new Honda’s R&D center, which isn’t far from autonomous-car pioneers Google, were a series of demos showcasing more auto-related tech. Another demo showcased prototype technology designed by Honda and Qualcomm that alerts car drivers and distracted pedestrians simultaneously of each other’s whereabouts.

Using WiFi-like DSRC, or a dedicated short range communication band – drivers get a sonic and visual alert on their windshield when a pedestrian is headed toward the vehicle (including a small icon indicating whether the pedestrian is texting or talking on the phone) while the walker gets an alert on the phone or through earbuds. “There are so many areas to work on, including connected cars, HMI (human machine interaction), big data, apps, but the bottom line is they’re all ways to improve human mobility,” says Paluch. “The culture here in the valley is one of passionate innovation around a goal.

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