By on December 3, 2020

While every other developed nation has been struggling unsuccessfully to catch up, Japan remains ground zero for adorable robots and Honda is continuing the trend with its new traffic-safety gizmo. Intended to advise young children on how to proceed through intersections, the product is really more like blind-spot-monitoring for kids than a full-on robotic entity. But it seems a useful useful addition to the pedestrian-heavy country where youngsters are substantially more likely to be struck by automobiles than here in North America.

Titled “Ropot” by its creators, the device rides on a backpack or shoulder strap and uses its GPS capabilities to remind kids to stop and look at intersections. It also allows parents to track the whereabouts of their offspring. However, since Ropot is targeted for children who are just starting to venture places on their own, a little parental spying may be warranted. All the adults have to do is make sure they take that first trip to school together so Honda’s wide-eyed helper can learn the route.

Ropot will also sense approaching traffic and issue vibrating warnings to novice pedestrians. While we do wonder if conditioning youngsters to depend on digital devices to instill safe behavior has any negative ramifications, especially as similar features appear to be ruining our own ability to drive cars effectively, its hard to knock something that actively warns kids when vehicles are rolling up from behind.

Honda seems to be keeping Ropot inside Japan for the time being. But we don’t see it being any less useful in other countries and it’s probably cute enough to have an effective marketing campaign without much effort. All the manufacturer needs to do is show it paling around with the bipedal ASIMO before he decides to hand it off to the child deemed most worthy of saving from rabid motorists. End it with a hug and Ropot winking at the camera, now affixed to the kid’s shoulder, and Honda will probably sell a million.

 

[Image: Honda]

 

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12 Comments on “Honda’s Newest Product: Blind-spot Monitoring for Children...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Does it only play ‘Gyromite’ and ‘Stack-Up’?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Fail.

    Today’s overly-protective parents will never relax enough to entrust their unaccompanied child to the brains of a robot.

    What ever happened to teaching children basic safety rules about crossing streets?

    • 0 avatar
      Cicero

      Does any kid in America even actually walk or ride a bike to school anymore? I doubt it.

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        As someone who built his first bicycle to use as transportation to junior high school (there’s no way I was being caught dead on the bike my folks got me for my 8th birthday, and anything was cooler than the school bus), tell me about it. What’s really scary is that most school districts actively stop a child from cycling or walking, due to potential legal ramifications.

      • 0 avatar
        Old_WRX

        I walked or biked to school from day one of 1st grade to the last day of 12th grade.

        I do find it ironic that in this day and age when they are always doing things to reduce carbon shoe size or energy consumption that almost all kids ride to school — either a parent drives them or they are bused. How many billion miles of vehicle travel does that represent per annum? But, the kids will be safe as soon as they install urinals in the girls’ bathroom for any transgender…

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @SCE to AUX – The problem isn’t so much “overly-protective” parents but parents unavailable to walk their kids to school. We’ve become 2 parent income slaves to financial debt partially due to wage stagnation. This is just an extension of that reality.

      The alternative is what? Natural selection? Tell the kids the hazards and hope they survive the trip?

      • 0 avatar
        Syke

        If my personal experience is applicable (and I was raised by a bush-league Joan Crawford), I’ll put my emphasis on over-protective. Grade school was three miles from home, but meant walking along one of the two main drags in the township, so there was no way my folks would allow that, even in fifth and sixth grade. I must made damn sure I never missed the bus.

        Junior high was 2-1/2 miles on the crossroad main drag, but had a couple of parallel streets that would get you there without most of the traffic. Then I walked or bicycled a lot, just to avoid taking the bus.

        Senior high? Out in the boonies, on state highways that under no condition did you use anything less than a Honda 50. Back to the bus.

        I considered my folks incredibly controlling and overprotective at the time. By today’s standards, they were firm believers in well-disciplined, free-range children. And while we were the typical working father, homemaker mother, two kids family; under no conditions was mom walking me anywhere.

    • 0 avatar

      Generally I agree RE: overprotection.

      However, having been to Japan I observed that little children go about the city on their own at like age 5, off to school or wherever.

      Some of the larger intersections in Tokyo are ridiculous. And on small side streets where everything’s tightly packed in, there are lots of parked cars, obstacles, fences, other things which would obscure the view between child pedestrian and driver.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    Would that have helped Rick Moranis?

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    What happens when we forget to charge it overnight? [You can see I’m a terrible parent.]

    What happens if there is a network outage? What happens if it breaks?

    (I’m just thinking of little Minato-san. Be well, little one. Safe in the arms of technology. Smartphone world will never let you down. Coding is so great always. Error-free from now – we are certain. Because Minato-san is relying on you.)

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      HAL: “Let me put it this way, Mr. Amor. The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.”

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Whatever happed to having a dozen children so losing a few to accidents doesn’t matter so much?

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