Honda's Newest Product: Blind-spot Monitoring for Children

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

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]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Dec 04, 2020

    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.)

    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on Dec 06, 2020

      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."

  • Wheatridger Wheatridger on Dec 05, 2020

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

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