Designed a company Honda is a small robot called Ropot that sits on the shoulders of children to help them avoid road accidents and cross the street safely by using ADAS technologies and other ideas from the automaker.
Ropot is described as a traffic safety guideline robot, as it is filled with sensors, but relies on simple communication to make children more aware of potential hazards.
While self-driving cars are still a bit far from being commercialized, the past few years have seen a massive increase in sensors and so-called advanced driver assistance systems that are included in vehicles.
Once reserved only for expensive models, features such as parking sensors, reverse obstacle warnings and alerts for potential collision are now commonplace.
Honda’s group of technology, branded Honda Sensing, is now available in passenger cars and SUVs.
The technology allows the brakes to be applied automatically if you are about to hit other cars, helping to keep you within the road signs, and correcting the car’s lane if you leave the lane unexpectedly.
Honda’s new Ropot can now do a little of that for children who walk.
Honda’s R&D project addresses the well-known problem in the country. Japanese children, usually at the age of seven, attend elementary school and walk alone.
There is a noticeable increase in traffic accidents involving children of this age as a result.
Research shows that children have a much narrower field of vision than adults, with only about two-thirds of the adult field of view, and this limits the degree to which they can see comprehensively around them, making assessing risk more difficult.
The Ropot may sound like a toy, but it includes several important technologies, as the GPS sensor allows the parent to pre-set the route the child should take, while the robot – attached to the child’s backpack strap – vibrates at crossing points to remind the child to look in both directions first.
The vehicle detection sensor can detect approaching traffic from behind the child as well, causing vibration and prompting him to verify his safety via haptic feedback.
Walking results are recorded daily and can be reviewed using the Ropot smartphone app, including times when a child may not stop to check before crossing.
The Honda team was testing the prototype of the robot with children in Japan, and says: The response has been positive among children and parents.