Honda to build reusable rockets, flying cars, practical robots • The Register



Japanese automaker Honda has set a goal of developing its own rockets and operating a satellite launch business.

The ambitions of this company are not great. The company aspires to launch “small satellites into low Earth orbit” and hopes its efforts will allow “at least some of the rocket components to land on Earth after launch.”

Although it is far behind rival private launch companies, Honda believes it can get there quickly as it has experience in engine building and combustion control, has self-driving car technology to help a rocket to understand its surroundings, and us when it comes to handling fluids and fuels.

The company also wants to demonstrate a “Honda Avatar Robot” by 2024. The device will feature a multi-finger robotic hand that can provide a “realistic sense of manipulating objects from a distance.” Honda has already built a ‘bot with several fingers that has been shown to be able to open a jar. The vision of the Japanese mega-enterprise is to allow humans to remotely control such “bots” in the 2030s.

Honda vertical takeoff and landing electric plane concept

Honda’s eVTOL concept. Click to enlarge

Also on the agenda, with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), is a plan “to build the renewable energy system circulating on the lunar surface by taking advantage of fuel cell technologies and technologies of high differential pressure water electrolysis that Honda has accumulated to date.

Honda is also considering remote-controlled robots to roam the lunar surface, some using the multi-finger technology mentioned above. Research has been underway since February 2021.

Back on Earth, the company is working on an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Honda already makes business jets and says the experience means it has a gas turbine hybrid powertrain that it can fit into an eVTOL, and that will give it enough power on board to fly. between cities, rather than being confined to shorter trips. motorized craft can achieve.

The event in which all of the above was announced was big on vision and billed as showing Honda’s “direction of technological development”, but was low on deliverables. Some ads were re-hashes.

Also in Japan, the country’s space agency today canceled the planned launch of its Epsilon rocket without revealing the cause. The launch was supposed to test a new satellite launch capability.

During the live broadcast, viewers were treated to a segment featuring a surprise visit from “Special Supporter Gachapin” – a “child dinosaur” who has once been in space and wants to return.


JAXA’s special dinosaur supporter. Click to enlarge

Gachapin debuted around 53:15 from this video to talk about its relationship with the universe. Japan may be a little behind in the race for space technology, but until SpaceX has its own child dinosaur, the field is wide open. ®


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