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Honda Debuts Self-Driving (and Self-Funding) NeuV Concept at CES 2017

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The Honda NeuV is an electric automated mini-vehicle concept equipped with an artificial intelligence (AI) "emotion engine" and automated personal assistant, which can create new possibilities for human interaction and new value for customers.

Today at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Honda introduced a very sci-fi looking mini-vehicle dubbed the NeuV (pronounced “new-v”), or “New Electric Urban Vehicle.”

The autonomous concept car is based on the fact that most people’s cars sit idle 96% of the time. The NeuV would eliminate that inefficiency and provide customers with a bit of revenue by acting as a self-driving rideshare vehicle when its owner is not using it, picking up and dropping off customers like a Lyft or Uber car.

The NeuV would also help pay for itself by selling energy back to the grid during periods of high demand when it is not being driven. Both of these features would actually enable owners to make money off of their cars.

“We designed NeuV to become more valuable to the owner by optimizing and monetizing the vehicle’s down time,” explained Mike Tsay, principal designer, Honda R&D Americas.

It’s actually pretty brilliant. And what makes the concept seem even more like Asimov by way of Honda is the presence of an artificially intelligent “emotion engine” named HANA (Honda Automated Network Assistant). HANA observes the “emotions behind the driver’s judgments” and, using that information, makes new choices and recommendations. HANA can even “check on the driver’s emotional well-being” and make music recommendations based on mood.

A self-driving AI car that can read your emotions, predict your decisions, and make money for itself by chauffeuring strangers whenever you’re not around? Sounds like the premise of a pretty good Black Mirror episode.

For Honda, though, the NeuV is just part of its Cooperative Mobility Ecosystem, a concept for connecting the power of artificial intelligence, robotics, and big data to change the future of mobility. Other examples displayed at CES 2017 include a self-balancing motorcycle concept called the Honda Riding Assist, and a virtual reality display created with DreamWorks Animation.