Honda may not be at the bleeding edge of the EV revolution, but it is further along than many manufacturers. Its newest model, the Clarity PHEV, has been well-received by customers and there is full battery electric version of the Clarity waiting in the wings. Now it appears Honda may be linking up with Waymo on autonomous driving technology and with WiTricity on wireless charging systems.
Working With Waymo
Waymo, a division of Alphabet, started life with the goal of building self-driving cars. But as Elon Musk has found, building cars is a crazy hard thing to do. Waymo backed off on its car manufacturing plans last year and partnered with Fiat Chrysler instead, converting Pacifica Hybrid minivans to accept Waymo’s self-driving equipment. Those vans are now in service in the Phoenix area, ferrying passengers about with no human driver on board, and Waymo says it will buy “thousands” more of the autonomous minivans.
Waymo is about more than just moving people. It says it wants to expand into “delivery and logistics” services, which means everything from pizzas to pipe organs. It has begun experimenting with self driving tractor trailers in the Atlanta area recently. Now, Engadget reports the company may be working with Honda on an entirely new kind of delivery vehicle that drives itself. It bases its information on a recent profile of Waymo CEO John Krafcik by Bloomberg.
In his interview with Bloomberg, Krafcik said not to expect the new service to take the form of a “traditional car driven on roads.” Engadget believes that comment means Waymo is ready to create a vehicle from scratch with an automaker like Honda rather than modifying existing models. Krafcik hinted the new self-driving vehicle from Honda might be smaller than a truck but larger than a car and would come without a steering wheel.
A Honda spokesman said the companies are “continuing to explore” their relationship, which began in 2016. No timeframe for building such a vehicle has been announced.
Honda And WiTricity
WiTricity and Honda will make a joint presentation about wireless charging technology to the Society of Automotive Engineers World Conference Experience on April 11. Kosuke Tachikawa, head of Honda R&D Americas, will discuss how EVs — and particularly those powered by wireless charging — will connect to the grid and enable bi-directional energy flow that will stabilize the grid and create a truly seamless, renewable energy source.
This will be one of the first times the combination of wireless charging and vehicle to grid systems will be discussed at such a major forum involving automotive engineers from around the world. If incorporated into future cars, it would make both charging and connecting to a V2G network a seamless experience that begins as soon as a vehicle is parked.
It is easy to imagine that wireless charging will also be an important component of any vehicle that Waymo and Honda develop together, as self-driving vehicles by definition do not have a human driver available to plug them in when necessary. WiTricity also featured its wireless charging prowess at the Geneva auto show recently with a cutaway version of the new Hyundai Kona showing how the system gets incorporated into a production car.
Honda hasn’t quite recovered from its hydrogen fuel cell addiction but is quietly working to remain relevant as the world transitions to electric and autonomous vehicles of all descriptions.
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