To transport Detroit residents for COVID-19 testing without exposing health workers during the trips, Honda's U.S. engineers modified 10 of the automaker's Odyssey minivans with protective equipment to support the crisis effort.
As part of a public-private partnership, the vans were retrofitted with plastic shields at the Honda R&D Americas development center in Raymond, Ohio.
But the original idea came from Japan, the company said. Back in Honda's home country, engineer Izuru Hori devised an airtight divider between the front and rear sections of local Odysseys, along with air conditioning modifications to prevent drivers from possibly being infected through contaminated air.
Michigan and Detroit officials saw news reports of the specially equipped vans in Japan and approached Honda in mid-April to ask whether something similar could be done to transport local residents to coronavirus testing.