Honda has joined the ranks of automobile manufacturers working to create new technologies for making the automobiles of the future — or was it the future of automobiles? — better. The company invited the press to its new Innovation Lab Tokyo for the first time ever and also announced the launch of a brand new tech R&D group within the facility.

Called R&D Center X, the new facility is focused upon everything that comes to your mind when you envision what transportation would look like a few decades hence. We are talking about robotics, mobility services and systems, AI and advanced energy technology including alternative energy here.

What’s more, Honda intends to use the research spawned from R&D X in its cars, and that too soon. Indeed, while speaking with Automotive News, the company hinted that some of the things the center is working on atm could be incorporated in Honda products as early as next year. The company hopes to reap the fruits of research in robotics by next year and move on to autonomous vehicles by 2020.

Meanwhile, Honda’s approach is by no means novel. After a period of relative stagnancy, the automotive industry has been kicked into action of late by a slew of emerging technologies. Now, there is a rush among manufacturers to get a piece of technologies like autonomous driving systems, drive assist, electric vehicles and so on. While many new companies have been formed by dint of innovative tech, the established manufacturers with their deeper pockets are attempting to cath up by acquisition and research.

Honda’s latest R&D center could also work with the company’s Xcelerator program to enter into partnership with emerging companies. The fact that the center is based in Tokyo instead of Silicon Valley further reinforces the notion. Honda will have direct access to some of  Japan’s best engineering and research talent, however, it could also access talent from abroad when and as needed through its Xcelerator program.

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