Milestones:Honda Electro Gyrocator: The World's First Map-based Automotive Navigation System, 1981
Map-Based Automotive Navigation System, 1981
The world’s first map-based automotive navigation system, ‘Honda Electro Gyrocator’, was released in 1981. This system was based on inertial navigation technology using mileage and gyro sensors. It pioneered the on-board display of the destination path of a moving vehicle on overlaying transparent road-map sheets, and contributed to the advancement of automotive navigation systems.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the Milestone Plaque Sites
36.526825, 140.226713, Honda Collection Hall
Address: 120-1 Hiyama, Motegi-cho, Haga-gun, Tochigi, 321-3597 Japan
GPS Coordinates: Latitude : 36.526825, Longitude : 140.226713,
Details of the physical location of the plaque
The plaque is to be displayed in the exhibition room of Honda Collection Hall.
How the intended plaque site is protected/secured
The plaque will be displayed in an acrylic showcase in the exhibition room of Honda Collection Hall, which can be accessible to the public.
Historical significance of the work
The major historical significance of the world’s first automotive navigation system ‘Honda Electro Gyrocator’ is briefed below.
1)Technological Significance of Development of ‘Honda Electro Gyrocator’
With the rapid advances in automotive technology and roadway environment, the motorization in Japan achieved drastic progress in the 1970’s. However, in those days there was still a hard reality that the automobile could not exert its potential of convenience to the full extent, due to traffic congestions caused by the drastic increase in motor traffic as well as by the sharp rise in personal mobility. Accordingly, the Japanese government launched the project ‘Comprehensive Automobile Traffic Control System’ in 1973, with the aim of equipping a moving vehicle with an innovative function to provide dynamic route guidance on its on-board display with reference to the actual traffic situation.
This project envisioned constructing a regional-scale navigation system provided with hardware capabilities of (i) transmitting the information on the present location and destination of each moving vehicle from its on-board antenna to the center computer via loop antennas embedded in major crossroads, and (ii) visualizing the optimal destination path of a moving vehicle on its on-board display with reference to traffic conditions. However, such a large-scale system necessitated a vast range of too peculiar functions to be implemented for practical use, and moreover it was useless in any area without such an infrastructure. Thus, at that time the automotive navigation technology was barely able to provide a moving vehicle with a routing ability to indicate its destination direction with the use of a magnetic compass.
Honda therefore determined to develop a completely self-contained navigation system, with the intention to equip a moving vehicle with a navigational function to visualize its traveled course including the present location on its on-board CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) display, without relying on any external installation like a radio station. To realize such a function, the most fundamental issue was how to display the present location of a moving vehicle on CRT screen. Thus, even prior to the advent of GPS (Global Positioning System), Honda tried to display the traveled course of a moving vehicle on its on-board CRT screen, referring to the idea inspired by inertial navigation systems which had so far been developed for airplanes [1-3].
Specifically, Honda first developed an elaborate procedure for seeking positioning data on the location of a moving vehicle by detecting its moving distance and direction by means of the ‘mileage’ sensor of Fig. 3 and the ‘gas-rate gyro’ sensor of Fig. 4, respectively, and then constructed a sophisticated mechanism to display on its on-board CRT screen its traveled course including the present location, which was derived from positioning data sought by applying the above procedure to a sequence of its moved locations . Eventually, Honda managed to devise a novel man-machine processing scheme to overlay a transparent road-map sheet on the traveled course displayed on CRT screen. This scheme was successfully evolved into the navigation system ‘Honda Electric Gyrocator’, which was released in 1981 for the first time in the world [1-8].
2)Social Significance of Automotive Navigation Systems from Historical Viewpoint
When tracing the pedigree of map-based automotive navigation systems, we can not help reaching ‘Honda Electro Gyrocator’ released in 1981 [1,5,6,7,8]. Since this navigation system was constructed prior to the advent of GPS, the procedure for seeking positioning data on locations of a moving vehicle was implemented by means of the ‘mileage’ and ‘gas-rate gyro’ sensors on the basis of inertial navigation systems so far developed for airplanes. Its technological practicability of visualizing the traveled course and destination path of a moving vehicle paved the way for map-based automotive navigation [1-8].
Now that the vehicle-positioning technology using gyro and GPS devices has been extensively diffused, and furthermore, the information of traffic congestions has been widely open to the public through the Web, significant benefits have been largely obtained from capabilities of efficient route finding to avoid traffic congestions as well as to raise fuel economy. Moreover, this automotive navigation technology will contribute greatly to the emerging vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, and will enhance the social practicability of ITS (Intelligent Transport System) through safe and efficient driving [7,8].
Thus, basic technologies originally developed for ‘Honda Electro Gyrocator’ contributed primarily to the recent advancement of map-based automotive navigation systems, as well as to the driving safety and environmental integrity [7,8]. Furthermore, the basic idea for seeking positioning data on locations of a moving vehicle was carried over into today’s GPS-based navigation systems, which are continuing to stimulate progressive development to enable more accurate and efficient route finding by adopting innovative gyro and GPS devices [9-15].
Features that set this work apart from similar achievements
A number of distinctive features of ‘Honda Electro Gyrocator’ are briefed below.
As of 1981, there had been a navigation system that could detect the moving distance and direction of a vehicle by means of ‘wheel revolution’ and ‘geomagnetic’ sensors, respectively. However, this system could not guide a route by map-based navigation, and moreover had the following three disadvantages.
(1) It stopped navigation when a vehicle faced such an obstacle as a river, because it displayed only a direction of its destination.
(2) Large errors could occur when a driver faced big magnetic substances such as iron bridges, railroad crossings, etc., which caused magnetization of the vehicle body, because the system used geomagnetism for direction detection.
(3) A driver could neither recognize an error nor adjust it manually, because information of vehicle’s position existed only in the internal system, to which the driver could not access.
As compared with the above system, ‘Honda Electro Gyrocator’ had distinctive advantages as follows.
(A) This navigation system was map-based, and hence could pursue route finding along every possible path toward its destination to avoid every obstacle.
(B) This system could detect a vehicle’s traveled course including present location without being affected by disturbance or magnetization of the vehicle body, because the ‘mileage’ sensor of Fig. 3 and the ‘gyro’ sensors of Fig. 4 were utilized to search for every possible path.
(C) Even when the driver of a moving vehicle found that its present location or its traveled course displayed on CRT screen deviated from a road of a map sheet, the driver could revise it to be completely on roads.
Eventually, it should be stressed that the concept of these three distinctive features has been carried over into today’s GPS-based navigation systems as global standards [1-3].
 http://www.jsae.or.jp/autotech/data_e/14-2e.html. See Appendix 1.
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOqig8rixOU (in Japanese). See Appendix 2.
 K. Tagami, T. Takahashi, and F. Takahashi: “Electro Gyrocator” New Inertial Navigation System for Use in Automobiles, SAE Technical Paper, 830659, Feb.-Mar., Detroit, MI, 1983. See Appendix 3.
 http://www.hondanews.info/news/ja/corporate/c810824: Aug. 24, 1981 (Japanese). See Appendix 4.
 http://www.hondanews.info/news/ja/corporate/c811217: Dec. 17, 1981 (Japanese). See Appendix 5.
 http://www.ieee.org/about/awards/bios/envsaf_recipients.html. See Appendix 6.
 http://sites.ieee.org/itss/itss-awards/other/. See Appendix 7.
 United States Patent; 4402050: Apparatus for visually indicating continuous travel route of a vehicle, patented on Aug.30, 1983.
 United States Patent; 4470124: Method of adjusting the zero-point of rate type sensor, patented on Sep.4, 1984.
 United States Patent; 4484284: Apparatus for visually indicating current travel route of a vehicle, patented on Nov.20, 1984.
 Japan patent; 62-15920: Apparatus for visually indicating traveled route of a vehicle, submitted on Nov.24, 1981, patented on Apr. 9, 1987 (in Japanese).
 Japan Patent; 58-24794: Apparatus for visually indicating traveled route of a vehicle, submitted on Nov. 28, 1979, patented on May 23, 1987 (in Japanese)
 Japan Patent; 2-36952: Apparatus for visually indicating traveled route of a vehicle, submitted on Feb. 5, 1980, patented on Aug. 21, 1990 (in Japanese)
 Japan Patent; 3-21846: Apparatus for visually indicating traveled route of a vehicle, submitted on Sep. 28, 1980, patented on Mar. 25, 1991 (in Japanese)
A number of materials contained in the references cited above, which may make this achievement be more understandable, are shown as appendices in what follows.
Appendix 8: Photos and figures indicating how to use Honda Electro Gyrocator. Photos and figures of Honda Electro Gyrocator.
- 1 Title
- 2 Citation
- 3 Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the Milestone Plaque Sites
- 4 Details of the physical location of the plaque
- 5 How the intended plaque site is protected/secured
- 6 Historical significance of the work
- 7 Features that set this work apart from similar achievements
- 8 Significant references
- 9 Supporting materials