Navigation System

World’s First Car Navigation System Honda's Electro Gyrocator with High-precision Gas-rate Gyro


In the 1970s, huge leaps in automobile technology and upgraded road conditions brought with it rapid motorization in Japan.

Increased traffic and the expansion of travel range triggered heavy congestion, resulting in many forms of energy wasted such as fuel consumption, physical and mental driver fatigue, and time. Considering these circumstances, Honda began development of a fully autonomous system which could determine the vehicle’s location, without relying on large scale installations or external facilities.

At a time when global positioning system (GPS) data was not available, Honda developed gyro and distance sensors for mass produced vehicles which could detect direction and distance, and succeeded in converting the vehicle location to electronic data, giving birth to Honda’s Electro Gyrocator, which displayed the data on a screen overlaid with a map.

Historical significance

The system’s revolutionary technology enabling the car’s location to be displayed on a map gave birth to the world’s first automobile map navigation system.

This technology was later enhanced by determining the most fuel efficient route from fuel consumption and route data, and also led to a system which determined environmentally friendly travel routes.

Vehicle location data is aggregated as probe data by the data center, and helps to realize efficient travel by sharing congestion data with compatible vehicles, allowing them to avoid traffic jams. Furthermore, the technology to detect the vehicle’s own location contributes to the development of advanced Intelligent Transport Systems (ITSs) that can realize safe travel. Base technologies realized by Honda’s Electro Gyrocator have now evolved to provide more detailed vehicle location by utilizing data such as GPS data.

Technological characteristics

1. Map-based car navigation system
Displays drive path, current location and heading, and by overlaying a map transparency, shows the vehicle's location on the map.

2. Inertial navigation using gyro and speed sensors
Newly developed automobile gas-rate gyro sensor and inertial distance sensors detect heading and drive distance, calculating the current location using a 16-bit CPU.

3. Map-matching function allows driver to correct minor location errors
By aligning the drive path displayed on the CRT with the roads printed on the map transparency, the driver was able to correct location errors.

These three technologies have become the standard for navigation system base technologies, and are now a world standard.

System Configuration

System Configuration

1. Driving distance sensor
Tire revolution pulse detection generates electric signals allowing the computer to determine how far the vehicle has traveled.

1. Driving distance sensor

2. Display (6-inch CRT)
Computer-generated travel path, current location and direction are displayed on the CRT overlaid with map transparency.

2. Display (6-inch CRT)

3. Direction sensor
Helium gas-filled precision gyro lacking moving parts generates and send to the computer electric signals that are extremely accurate to vehicle direction changes.

3. Direction sensor

4. Navigation computer
Calculates current location from direction and distance electric signals, and determines navigation.

Self-corrects errors.

These results are calculated to display travel path.

4. Navigation computer

Honda’s steps to evolve the system

1990 Releasing the Digital Map Navigation System

By utilizing the most advanced electronic technologies at the time, the system incorporated a CD-ROM Japan-wide digital maps, and map-matching technology which automatically matched the vehicle’s travel path to digital maps. This realized an autonomous, high-precision and practical navigation system.

1994 Releasing the Honda Navigation System

In addition to accurately determining vehicle position, the user-friendly system featured efficient route guidance with visual and audible warnings, and full information search. The navigation system included a double-speed CD-ROM drive which enabled rapid retrieval of map data and database information. The hybrid navigation device consisted of an autonomous, lightweight and compact gyro sensor in conjunction with a GPS.

1997 Releasing the new-generation Honda Navigation System

The new system featured Honda’s unique world-first erratic driving detection system which used high precision navigation technology to detect unusual driving patterns, such as when the driver was falling asleep at the wheel, and warn the driver visually and audibly. Another feature was the Inter Navi System, which used the internet to realize two-way communication.

2002 Voice-activated Car Navigation System

The system featured voice recognition, realizing systemwide voice operation and voice guidance.

In addition to voice-activated system using voice commands, to dictate notes, and to have hands-free conversations on the mobile phone. The wide range of safety features included an erratic driving detection system and a driver assist system complete with curve sensing functionality.

2003 HDD Voice-Activated Navigation System with World‘s First 'Floating Car Data' System

With double the data capacity of previous Honda navigation systems and the ability to read-write data, the new navigation system also featured shorter search / route finding times, and improved information display. Honda simultaneously introduced the world’s first bi-directional data network service utilizing a floating car data system*.

Onboard sensors collect speed and other data for transmission to a data processing center where data on traffic flow and congestion is monitored.

Honda’s Electro Gyrocator has not only laid the foundations of technological progress in the environmental and preventative safety fields, but is also a promising factor in realizing forthcoming autonomous vehicle technologies.

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