The Honda Research Institute Europe GmbH (HRI-EU), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honda R&D Co., Ltd. is pursuing a program to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Within this program, HRI-EU’s technology is licensed to a Swiss startup company, biped.ai.
Biped is a smart assistive device that guides blind and partially sighted people when navigating their way through city environments. It comes as a harness worn on the shoulders, and alerts users to the location of potential obstacles using sound feedback.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. have signed an agreement to license HRI-EU’s risk analyzing technology and patents to biped.ai. This technology was originally developed for Honda’s Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) and autonomous driving system. Dr. Tim Puphal, Senior Scientist at HRI-EU explains “the technology analyses the environment around your vehicle, evaluates how the near future will evolve, and determines potential risks of your vehicle by using our algorithm. Our technology then either alerts the driver or with autonomous driving, the system changes the behavior of your vehicle for the safest and best possible path to minimize the risk.” The wide-angle cameras on Biped capture the surrounding view of the user allowing HRI-EU’s algorithm to analyze potential future risks. Biped then alerts the user to the position of obstacles, helping to navigate through cities.
This figure summarizes the risk-based collision warning for the biped smart assistive device. It determines potential risks in advance and warns the user of a predicted collision.
Honda seeks to continue expanding opportunities for people to enjoy the freedom of mobility in safe possible ways with its original and useful technologies that anticipate the needs of the times. Honda’s approach aligns with the United Nations’ SDGs, and the agreement with biped.ai is in line with Goal 3 “Good Health and Wellbeing.” This activity also contributes to realizing Honda’s global direction for a collision-free mobile society under Honda’s safety slogan “Safety for Everyone”.
Dr. Jens Schmuedderich, Director Innovation at HRI-EU, stated: “We are grateful for biped.ai’s trust in our technology, and we expect that this collaboration will be an example for HRI’s licensing activities towards a sustainable society.” Dr. Nils Einecke, Group Leader at HRI-EU, adds: “The collaboration with biped.ai to translate our technology into a product that helps blind and visually impaired people, was deeply fulfilling for the whole project team”.
Maël Fabien, CEO at biped.ai, says “We had a dream when we founded biped: make assistive technologies smarter, and safer, using concepts from self-driving cars. Thanks to this key partnership with HRI-EU, we are now one step closer, and we are grateful for Honda’s trust.”
About Honda Research Institute
The Honda Research Institute (HRI) was established in 2003 as a center of excellence for advanced research with a focus on intelligent systems targeting innovative solutions with direct applications to Honda’s current and future technology roadmap. HRI has a long history of strong partnerships with universities and research organizations. HRI offices are located around the globe including Europe, Japan, and the United States.
Biped.ai is a Swiss startup company founded in 2021 and based in Lausanne, that develops a smart navigation harness for blind and visually impaired people. The vision of biped.ai is to build a life-changing innovation, that could let users discover new places entirely on their own, safely and independently. Biped will remain extremely simple to use, become smaller over time, and do always more. It will be able to read text, recognize faces, detect specific crosswalks, provide indoor navigations in specific buildings, and even help you run or ice-skating in the long term.