Honda Frees Up Silicon Valley Unit to Lead Innovation

New group will consider a broader spectrum of technologies.

by on Apr.17, 2017

Honda's Silicon Valley R&D facility is the home of Honda R&D Innovation Inc.

Honda has turned its Silicon Valley Lab in Mountain View, California, into a new company officially called Honda R&D Innovations Inc., tasked with pursuing research and product development beyond just cars.

It will also look partnerships with other companies and start-up companies on future projects.

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“We’re witnessing a convergence of technologies that will transform mobility, create new business opportunities, and change the way we manufacture products,” said Honda Innovations CEO Nick Sugimoto, who previously served as the senior program director of Honda Silicon Valley Lab.

“By looking broadly across technology areas and partnering with innovators across the globe, we can create products and services that enhance the lives of our customers.”

Honda Innovations plans to expand its focus beyond vehicles and broaden its responsibility to develop partnerships as looks for potential collaborations within all areas of Honda’s activities. It plans to seek out partnerships with innovators ranging from startups and global brands to design and development communities, Sugimoto said.

(Honda adds two new versions of Clarity green machines. Click Herefor the story.)

Honda's Silicon Valley R&D facility.

The main areas of focus include connected vehicle/internet of things services, human machine interface, machine intelligence/robotics, connected services, personal mobility, sharing economy and industrial innovation, he said.

Sugimoto said Honda Innovations also plans to expedite discussions on technical collaboration with to integrate Waymo’s self-driving technology with vehicles from Honda. A memorandum of understanding between Honda R&D Co. Ltd. and Waymo was signed in late 2016, calling for the use of Waymo technology in Honda vehicles.

Waymo has already placed more than 160 Chrysler Pacifica’s from FCA into its test fleet.

Honda Innovations also will also be responsible for Honda’s Developer Studio and Xcelerator programs, which focus on software application creation for Honda’s various platforms, and on providing early- to late-stage startups with funding and support.

(Click Here to check out the new Honda Civic Si.)

Honda Xcelerator supports tech innovators across all funding stages who seek to transform the mobility experience in a collaborative environment. The program offers funding for rapid prototyping, a collaborative workspace, and pairing with Honda mentors. Honda Developer Studio enables developers to work directly with Honda engineers to create apps that are road-ready more quickly.

After launching in 2011, Honda Silicon Valley Lab collaborated with Apple to integrate Apple Car Play, the smarter, safer way to use your iPhone in the car. Honda also worked with Google to integrate Android Auto into the 2016 Honda Accord. Since then, the Lab has collaborated with a number of innovators on a wide variety of software and hardware technologies to enhance the in-vehicle experience.

At CES 2017, Honda Developer Studio demonstrated a mobile payment app that will allow consumers to pay for services such as gasoline and public parking from the comfort and safety of their vehicles. Honda Xcelerator, which demonstrated at CES an optical microphone and a 3D holographic display, established its presence in Tel Aviv in 2016, partnering with OurCrowd, the world’s leading equity crowd-funding platform.

In 2017, Xcelerator expanded its presence in Israel by partnering with innovation center and tech incubator Drive. Efforts to collaborate with Israeli innovators have already resulted in a partnership with optical sensor company, Vocal Zoom.

(To see how Honda muscled up for the Civic Type R, Click Here.)

Through a partnership with MassChallenge, a global early-stage startup accelerator headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, Honda Xcelerator is collaborating with innovators and entrepreneurs in New England in areas such as manufacturing innovation.

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