Honda , Softbank: Sit back, relax, Let the Car do the Talking

On the heels of its $32 billion takeover of chip designer ARM Holdings, SoftBank Corp founder Masayoshi Son is embarking on another “crazy idea”: talking cars that can read a driver’s emotions.

The Japanese telecommunications and internet corporation said on Thursday it was teaming up with Honda Motor Co to look at ways of applying SoftBank’s humanoid robotic technology to cars so they can communicate with drivers, perhaps helping them park or offering company on long trips.

The announcement comes after SoftBank on Monday agreed to buy British chip designer ARM Holdings, which Son believes will play a central role in the tech industry’s shift to the ‘internet of things’ (IoT).

Speaking at an event in Tokyo, Softbank and Honda described a future in which Honda cars could speak and interact with their drivers via cloud-based technology based on SoftBank’s “Pepper” robot, a life-sized robot that can read human emotions.

The two companies would research ways to assess a driver’s speech, along with other data compiled by vehicle sensors and cameras, to gauge the driver’s emotions and allow the vehicle to engage in conversation.

As a result, vehicles would be able to offer advice and support to drivers, such as during challenging driving or parking situations, while also providing company to drivers on long, solitary trips.

The tie-up with Honda comes as automakers compete to develop self-driving cars, which many plan to bring to market in the coming years.

Leave a Reply