I should say from the outset that this project is conceptual only, and that Honda (sadly) currently has no plans to bring these vehicles into production. But as a piece of promotion for the brand, and for the wider possibilities of autonomous driving in general, it’s great. Created by design studios Map in London and Mori Inc in Japan, the seven vehicles sprang from the idea of retracing the migration route from Kenya to Brazil and in the process explore how autonomous vehicles would cover the world’s longest route in the modern day.
The seven vehicles are designed to travel over a variety of terrains, from valleys to mountains, deserts to jungles. Each of the resulting designs are purely conceptual but are inspired by (and feature) elements from Honda products already in existence, including the Asimo robot, and Uni-Cub, a personal mobility device. The project is explained in more detail by Map’s Jon Marshall in the film below:
And here are the seven vehicles – each has two modes, the travelling mode for the daytime, and a relaxing/sleeping mode at night.
This vehicle is designed to cross an African savannah inhabited by a wide variety of animals. It is a modern update on the camper van, and takes design references from the Vamos Honda utility vehicle. It also uses elements of Honda’s robotic lawn mowers, which allow the vehicle to cut new tracks in the grass. To give travellers the best vantage point for viewing animals, Map designed a sheltered canopy above the vehicle, providing protection from the animals and the sun, which can rise up via a helium balloon.
This is a vehicle made up of a number of different elements which link together forming a train. The tracked driving vehicle is powered by Honda’s fuel cell technology; the excess water the engine produces is filtered back to the rolling water container at the rear of the vehicle. The roll cage of each of the elements gives the Desert Train a rugged, indestructible look, inspired by Honda’s four stroke generator and the Honda Motra 50cc leisure bike. At night the train can expand into a tent for sleeping.
Map designed the Mountain Climber – a large vehicle with high ground clearance – to travel on the treacherous roads through the Himalayas. The vehicle has an extruded form reminiscent of viewing platforms in the Alps. Inspired by Honda’s Asimo robot, robotic legs can be deployed in the event of a landslide so that the vehicle can safely negotiate the rocks and debris. The robotic rear arm includes a digger bucket for helping to repair the road.
The design of the Island Hopper is a combination of a pedalo and a luxury yacht. Honda has a design heritage in building lightweight structures such as Formula 1 machines and the compact business jet. The hull of the Island Hopper sits just above the water as the six paddle wheels propel the vehicle along. The vehicle is completely powered by solar energy. Once on land the wheels operate in a similar fashion to a tank, with separate left and right controls to navigate the island’s roads.
Map designed the Tundra Sled by combining the traditional dog sled with Honda Uni-Cub self-balancing technology. It is created to travel across snowy and icy landscapes. The six powerful drone wheels pull the sled along as well as sensing any cracks in the ice. The sled’s runners follow the outer perimeter of the shape, reminiscent of a traditional wooden sled.
For the parts of the journey that take place on man-made roads, Map designed the Road Tripper, with large glass panels that wrap over the symmetrical polished stainless steel tube. Views can be enjoyed on both sides of the vehicle from the comfort of a sofa. Map included references to Honda’s Daytona motorcycle by using the graphical language of the 1960’s racing number on the side of the vehicle. Map also used the Honda Gyro X innovative steering system in the Road Tripper. The Gyro X is a compact 3-wheel design providing great mobility and the ability to cover distances with minimal fuel.
Finally, for travel across the Amazon Jungle, Map designed the Jungle Jumper, a six wheeled truck inspired by the Honda T360, with deep tyre treads that provide extra traction. It features a habitation unit on top, which can be pulled up into the tree canopy at night.
More info on Map and Mori Inc’s designs can be found at hondagreatjourney.com. Shall we all lobby Honda to make these vehicles a reality?