Analog to Digital: A Three-year Detour Leads to the Goal

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<< 9. Analog to Digital: A Three-year Detour Leads to the Goal

The development of Honda's analog map navigation system, which was scheduled to finish before the digital system, was still struggling along in 1983. Following the abandonment of an initial plan of using laser discs to store map data due to difficulties with the company's joint development partner, the team had adopted microfilm as an alternative. However, that system made it difficult to change maps automatically, which was a system requirement. Fortunately, an improved situation in 1984 allowed Honda to resume the joint development of laser discs. Therefore, to compensate for the delay, Honda directed the majority of its development effort to the analog map navigation system. Development of the digital system was temporarily suspended when Nakamura was appointed LPL in charge of the analog project.

However, progress in digital technology would not stop simply because Honda had turned its attention to analog. In 1985, for example, the U.S. company ETAK introduced its own digital map navigation system. Although the system's effective range-the area of geographical coverage-was limited, the announcement was a dour one for Nakamura and his staff. Therefore, ultimately the development of a practical analog system was shelved. The staff experienced indescribable feelings of disappointment.

The development of the digital map navigation system resumed in 1987, following a three-year hiatus. However, obviously there was no time to lose. To create a practical system as soon as possible, the map-matching function was simplified to provide main-road navigation only. However, the high-precision gyro and advanced map-matching mechanism were combined to ensure the performance of the map-matching function even in the event the car was driven off the map.

In March 1988, the development project, which had been carried out independently by the Basic R&D Center (HGF), became a joint project with Tochigi R&D Center (HGT). Thus completed, the system made its official debut in the second-generation, 1990 Legend. This was in the end an ample reward for the development team, which through perseverance and constant dedication to a goal had produced a real and lasting innovation.
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