Meet The Honda Electro Gyrocator

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Remember what it was like to visit your friend in a part of Singapore you’re unfamiliar with? At one point in time, almost every driver in Singapore had one 1-inch thick book in their car, and figuring out a way meant flipping through pages of, you guessed it, maps!

Singapore Street Directory, 14th Edition, 1984, © Singapore Land Authority

If you had to plan a route from Changi to Jurong, that meant flipping though at least 30 pages of the map, which explains why most examples that exist today show signs of extreme wear and tear.

Well, while drivers in Singapore had to deal with thick and heavy maps, folks in Japan had it a tad bit easier,  with the Honda Electro Gyrocator.

Honda Electro Disco Gyro What?

The great granddaddy of your “sat-nav”, GPS navigator or smartphone loaded with maps. The Honda Electro Gyrocator, commercialised in 1981, is the world’s first map-based automotive navigation system. Looking like a dashboard cluster, it contained a direction sensor which was developed as a result of the world’s first practical application of gas-rate gyro sensor for automobiles. The gas-rate gyro sensor detects the direction the vehicle is moving.

The combination of this direction sensor, driving distance sensor, microcomputer and other technologies enabled it to detect direction and the distance of the movement, which were used to calculate the current position of the vehicle.

By indicating the current location, direction and driving trajectory of the vehicle on a cathode-ray tube (CRT) display where the user placed the map film, it was made easier for the driver to select which path to take. It sure beats having a passenger who doesn’t know how to read maps to guide you around.

If you still need a passenger who is skilled at reading maps today, you’re probably a rally driver.

So much has changed in the world of normal motoring today, but as far as innovations go, the great stick around in the memories of those which had their lives changed. In fact, almost 36 years since its introduction, the Honda Electro Gyrocator has been honoured as an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Milestone.

The IEEE Milestones program honours historic achievements of groundbreaking innovations in the areas of electrical, electronics, information and communications technologies, which are at least 25 years old and have made a significant contribution to the advancement of society and industry.

Honda is the first company in the auto industry to be honoured by this program, which recognises that the development of the Honda Electro Gyrocator triggered the global popularisation of map-based automotive navigation systems and contributed to the establishment of a global standard for the navigation system.

So, before you lament about how late Honda is to the turbo fraternity (sans City Turbo), you can thank them inspiring today’s never-get-lost technology.


About Author

Always finding ways to keep his hands full, Krado loves to tinker with his car whenever he has the free time. Usually ends in tears or a multiple fluid facial.

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