MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — On a Thursday afternoon inside Honda’s new Silicon Valley research lab, a handful of Uni-Cubs — think motorized bar stools that riders control by leaning this way or that — are ferrying journalists around a brightly lit room under the watchful eyes of engineers giving tips on how to steer.
If the gadget is a little odd, so is the fact that Honda, a traditionally modest, tight-lipped automaker, let any outsiders into the lab to begin with.
The rare public showing was part of last week’s opening of the company’s sprawling 35,000-square-foot r&d center here in the heart of Silicon Valley, where it has united once-disparate strands of its research work and connected them with a technology incubator for other potential research partners.
Honda used the event to debut the freshened 2016 Accord sedan, one of the first few cars on the market whose infotainment system will play nice with the smartphone software from two nearby tech companies: Google and Apple. But for Honda, it was also a chance to reassert its place among the world’s leading research companies.
“We’re really excited about this,” Frank Paluch, president of Honda R&D Americas, told