Honda seems to be aligned with Tesla when it comes to its vision for the future of transportation.
Honda unveiled a concept car, dubbed the NeuV, at the Consumer Electronics Show on Thursday. The vehicle is self-driving, electric, and meant for a ride-sharing service. In other words, Honda jammed the latest trends in the transportation industry into one car.
Honda didn’t say whether the vehicle is completely driverless, but said it is meant for a future where a car could pick up and drop off customers when the owner isn’t using it.
That’s a concept Tesla CEO Elon Musk is also pursuing. Musk wrote in his “Master Plan, Part Deux” that he intends to develop a ride-sharing service called Tesla Network where owners can add their car to a shared fleet. Other people could then hail a ride in the Tesla, generating income for the owners when they aren’t using the car.
Naturally, the idea is that at this point the Tesla would be completely driverless, made possible by the new hardware Tesla is currently integrating in its cars.
Other automakers are exploring self-driving, ride-sharing services, but not so much the prospect of letting owners elect when it is used in a fleet setting or not.
For example, General Motors launched a car-sharing service called Maven last January. Dan Grossman, the chief operating officer of Maven, told Business Insider he envisions a time where a Maven car is self-driving and could pick you up at your home. But in that case the fleet would still be entirely owned and managed by GM. GM has also invested in Lyft to build self-driving cars.
Of course, Uber is also outfitting its own fleet of self-driving cars and is conducting pilot programs in Pittsburgh and Arizona for that purpose.
But Honda’s concept car envisions a ride-sharing service that is managed by the owners of the car. Since this is just a concept, we can’t be sure Honda is actually planning to pursue that kind of service. But it’s interesting to see the automaker exploring the idea.
As for the car itself, Honda says it is equipped with AI that can feel human emotions. (My colleague Matt DeBord has written more extensively about that component of the concept.) But that’s a premise Toyota is also exploring in the concept car it unveiled at CES, the Concept-i, which comes with an AI assistant named Yui.
As you can tell by the concept’s general boxy shape and fairly dull appearance, Honda is trying to showcase a vision for the future of transportation rather than automotive design with its concept. In this case, it’s a vision we can expect Musk to talk more about in 2017.
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