You know, sometimes I just love Honda. It’s the only car company out there that watched Wall-E and thought “screw it, let’s make that happen!” You’ll see what I mean when I tell you about RoboCas, Honda’s concept robot that appears to be capable of carrying your stuff like a pack animal, letting you open a food stand, maybe helping to raise your kids, and, uh, sing with you. Onstage. Honda, you glorious kook.
RoboCas has that same simple, streamlined adorability as Eve from Wall-E. It’s a three-wheeled robot with a roughly cubical body that’s sort of like an autonomous, mobile trunk or suitcase or cooler. Sort of.
Essentially, it can be thought of as an autonomous cargo vehicle, a concept that I think makes a hell of a lot of sense; I even proposed something like that as a possible Apple Car a while back.
The behavior, though, is quite different from what you’d expect from an autonomous delivery/cargo vehicle in that RoboCas is designed for much more direct interaction with people. It’s scaled in a way to exist in human-occupied spaces as opposed to roads or other vehicular space, and it appears to be designed for much more complex communication and interaction with people and their actions.
Honda describes this, somewhat nauseatingly, as “Connecting People with Smiles” but even if we don’t take the proposed Smilenet protocol too seriously, the idea is interesting. I’m imagining it would behave something like an attentive and helpful dog—sort of the opposite of how my dogs seem to work.
Honda’s press release for RoboCas is pretty fascinating, too:
Honda is researching mobility to expand the possibilities of people’s lifestyles, for a future in which people are connected with smiles. The Honda RoboCas Concept, a unique form of electric mobility, was born to make each person’s ideas and dreams come true. On top of a compact mobile body, RoboCas has a carry space which can be easily rearranged. It carries things (or people!) and its use is limited only by the imagination: Open an impromptu cafe during the weekend, or a soup cafe or curry shop. Using Honda’s autonomous mobility technology, RoboCas can follow people in its unique, cute way, bringing happiness and joy to everyone. At the Tokyo Motor Show, RoboCas will put on an entertaining show with lots of music, and help at the Honda booth, to make a visit to the booth a memorable occasion. Come to the Honda booth and see, play, enjoy!
Wait, hold on:
“Open an impromptu cafe during the weekend, or a soup cafe or curry shop.”
Okay, I can see from the pictures that, sure, RoboCas is unusally well-designed to handle the job of transforming into an impromptu soup cafe (?) or curry shop or gravy bar or horsemeat-on-a-stick stand or whatever, but has anyone, ever decided to just set up an “impromptu cafe?”
Is that even legal? Who is that person that shrieks out at 9:30 pm on a Friday night “Guys, guys, I have an idea! Let’s start a clam chowder stand RIGHT NOW! Chow-DER chow-DER chow-DER!”
I guess it’s no less weird than the picture of RoboCas singing backup in that nice lady’s acoustic guitar set there.
The fundamental design seems very good for this; I really like the side panels that appear to be able to be drawn/written upon, It looks like it holds a useful volume of stuff, and it’s friendly and approachable. I can’t help but actually like this thing, and I think I’d sort of like to have one to order around and carry tools and crap for me.
I’m a bit concerned about stairs, though.