Honda also had another problem at the time, in that it relied primarily on external companies for the development and manufacture of its electronics. Consequently, for example, the design of a fuel injection system for one of its engines would require sharing its hard-earned secrets with a third party.
Katsutoshi Tagami, the lead developer of Honda's portable generator projects, was appointed to head up the company's electronic research division in 1976. A fresh strategy was quickly drawn up, identifying how developments would guide automotive design. Among other things, it showcased how new electrical systems would grant increased degrees of automation - ultimately culminating in an autonomous car.
Route guidance was key to this final stage but few had experimented with it and the technology wasn't available to permit anything practical. After all, the American 'Global Positioning System' project only began in earnest in 1978 and limited public access to the network wasn't granted until 1983.
Kume, however, happened to observe one of Japan's new Type 74 tanks in action during a military display. It, like many others, benefited from a gyroscopically stabilised main gun - which didn't bounce up and down while the tank traversed rough terrain. Kume thought this technology had some automotive application, so passed his observations along to the development team and Tagami.
Subsequent studies revealed that these mechanical gyroscope-based stabilisation systems were too complicated and costly for automotive use. Tagami nevertheless persisted with his investigations, deeming the technology something that could showcase the company's new electronics strategy. Further research revealed the 'gas rate' gyroscope, which had far fewer parts and worked based on the interaction of electrical currents with flowing gases.
Honda did have some help, though; the Stanley Electric Company supplied the vacuum technology required to develop and produce the gyros, and Alpine Electronics - already collaborating with Honda - produced the computer, display and distance sensor.
Finally, on August 24th, 1981, the world's first map-based electronic navigation system - dubbed the Honda 'Electro Gyrocator' - was unveiled to the public. Unlike modern navigation systems, which rely on GPS signals for real-time positioning data, the Electro Gyrocator was an inertial guidance system - which calculates position based on a known starting point, orientation and velocity measurements.
The unit was supplied with map transparencies onto which you would mark your starting point, potential route and desired destination. The Electro Gyrocator, once loaded with the map sheet and set up, would display your position and plot your travelled route on its six-inch display. This would allow you to see where you were, where you had been and where you should head next.
That said, it was not without issues. Its accuracy was low, longer trips required map changes and it was expensive. Each cost ¥299,000 (£702) in 1981, almost 30 percent of the cost of a new entry-level Accord from the same era. Adjusted for inflation, an Electro Gyrocator would set you back almost £2800 today.
It wasn't a sales success, unsurprisingly, but Honda persisted with it and released a version that used digital mapping in 1990. Time was already being called for the gyro-based systems, though; Mazda's GPS-equipped Cosmo arrived in the same year, marking the next evolutionary step in the technology.
Honda had successfully established itself as an innovator in the field, however - and the Electro Gyrocator's map usage, top-down view and interface paved the way for everything that followed it.