Honda seeks Israeli brains for smart cars

Giant Japanese automaker scouting for Israeli start-ups that will help create a crash-free car.

Gil Ronen,

Takahiro Huchigo, President and CEO of Honda
Takahiro Huchigo, President and CEO of Honda
Reuters

Honda, the largest Japanese automaker, is scouting Israel for technological start-ups that will help it design and manufacture a crash-free car.

ISRAEL21c spoke to Nick Sugimoto, senior program director of the Honda Silicon Valley Lab, who is visiting Israel. He said that by 2020, Honda will offer smart cars that have 50 percent fewer collisions. By 2030, he predicted, Honda’s cars will not just be able to avoid other vehicles, but also pedestrians, and by 2040, Honda’s vehicles will be collision-free.

To achieve this, Honda needs smart technology – and it is looking for it in Israel.

“Traditional cars were big hardware products with a cabin, engine and tires, but going forward the car is a big computer, and the connected car is becoming a more and more intelligent machine,” Sugimoto told the website, which specializes in innovative Israeli technology.

“Honda has been very strong in our initial R&D with engines, but when it comes to that connectivity and intelligence, Honda needs help. We need partners to work with. The product is changing, industry is changing, and customer expectation is changing and that’s why we are now in Israel.”

Sugimoto was speaking Monday at the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem.

The manufacturer announced at the event that it is looking for new opportunities for collaboration, and has engaged crowdfunding equity platform company OurCrowd to reach its portfolio companies. “They will be our eyes and ears in Israel,” Sugimoto told ISRAEL21c. “They are already well networked within the tech community, and whenever they find an industry startup that might be interesting, they will make an introduction to Honda.”

Sugimoto added that Honda is already working with well-known Israeli company Waze and also with VocalZoom, which has developed a speech interface for cars and motorbikes, and could be integrated into cars by 2018.

Honda is looking for startups developing vehicle intelligence technologies, apps and software such as human-machine interfaces. It has also been holding talks with leading automotive cyber-security companies in Israel.




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