Gyrocator Development: A Path Strewn with Difficulties

The second-generation NAVI, employing digital map technology. Honda holds patents for most of the basic technologies, including the CD-ROM maps, map-matching technology and map-partitioning storage system.

<< 1. Behind the Success of the CVCC Engine
<< 2. Creating a Progressive Strategy
<< 3. A Gas-rate Gyro Comprising Just Eight Parts
<< 4. Gyrocator Development: A Path Strewn with Difficulties
<< 5. Could the Map Be Wrong?
<< 6. The Final Test: From Suzuka to Tokyo
<< 7. The Challenge of Digitization
<< 8. "A System That Cannot Lie"
<< 9. Analog to Digital: A Three-year Detour Leads to the Goal

The concept had been defined, but many problems had yet to be resolved. The most troublesome of these was the gas-rate gyro's lack of accuracy. To make the system truly practical, it would have to be improved and stabilized, especially with regard to the zero point.

The research team had used trial and error to produce various improvements in the system's eight basic parts. Among these was the discovery that fluctuating performance was the result of variations in ambient temperature, resulting in the use of a special chamber to control temperature and ensure consistency. Meanwhile, Tagami was looking for a supplier to produce a stable-running gas-rate gyro, since doing so would require a high level of vacuum technology in order to increase the purity of the helium gas used.

Tagami was leading development of a new technology, with great uncertainty as to whether it would become an actual product. Therefore, suppliers were understandably hesitant. After many rejections, Tagami's only hope was the headlight manufacturer Stanley Electric, which had superior vacuum technology. He visited the company's research center every day and pleaded for support, and finally the director agreed.

"I think that as an engineer he could relate to our passion for the creation of something new," Tagami said. "He gave us support by standing up to objections within the company. In fact, he really saved our lives."

Stanley and Honda thus began a collaborative effort to make the gas-rate gyro more consistent and accurate. That would not be an easy task, though. Later, the extent of that challenge became evident when the initial mass-production data showed a yield of only one in ten units.
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