New Honda Accord sedan unveiled in Silicon Valley

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.The adoption of both Google’s Android Auto and Apple’s CarPlay doesn’t look to be slowing down with Honda announcing that the 2016 Accord will be the first Honda model to include both in-car systems.

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. This includes Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control. 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.”

Today’s rededication of sorts—in an expanded R&D facility—symbolizes Honda’s renewed interest toward integrating some of the best aspects of today’s technological landscape into its increasingly sensor-friendly (and sophisticated) vehicles. “Much of the fundamental technological progress we all hope to achieve requires both a strong cooperative and competitive spirit. 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.

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. GM previously announced most of its 2016 model year cars would offer these features, and Hyundai is making them available in its Sonata mid-size sedan, with more models promised.

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. The upper screen can display audio settings, turn-by-turn directions, time and trip information, LaneWatch™ and Rearview Camera displays, incoming calls, SMS text messages when stopped, and parking sensor alerts. The US market press release says the Accord which is due for an August market launch will continue with the existing engine line-up there, which is a direct injected 2.4 litre paired to a CVT gearbox and a 3.5 litre V6 paired to a six-speed auto.

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. About Honda Honda offers a complete lineup of Honda cars, trucks and service through a network of more than 1,000 Honda dealerships within the United States. 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. In what must be the most thankless job in Silicon Valley, some Honda employees spent a chunk of the afternoon walking out in front of a (slowly) moving Honda vehicle to demonstrate Honda’s work in recognizing road obstacles (like cars, bicycles, or people) and automatically braking on a driver’s behalf. 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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