Japanese car giant Honda has broken down its plans for fully autonomous vehicles, confirming that it intends to introduce cars that require no driver intervention by 2025. In a statement, the company clarified that it will install its autonomous freeway drive system in vehicles by 2020, giving itself an additional five years to develop vehicles that can handle all necessary road conditions without human assistance.
Unveiling its mid-term Vision 2030 strategy plan, Honda said it would boost coordination between R&D, procurement and manufacturing to tame development costs as it acknowledged it must look beyond conventional vehicles to survive in an industry which is moving rapidly into electric and self-driving cars.
Honda established a division late last year to develop electric vehicles (EVs) as part of its long-held goal for lower-emission gasoline hybrids, plug-in hybrids, EVs and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs) to account for two-thirds of its lineup by 2030, from about 5 percent now.
Like many other car makers, Honda's self-driving systems rely on a mixture of cameras, lidar and radar sensors. Using these technologies, it aims to meet standards set out by SAE International, an automotive standardization body. Autonomous freeway driving meets SAE Level 3, enabling drivers offload driving tasks but remain prepared to take back control. SAE Level 4 allows a driver to completely relinquish control while inside the car, meaning the autonomous vehicle can drive itself on highways and city roads under most conditions.
"We will strive to achieve the technological establishment of Level 4 automated driving for personal car use by around 2025," said Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo. "We are striving to provide our customers with a sense of confidence and trust by offering automated driving that will keep vehicles away from any dangerous situation and that will not make people around the vehicle feel unsafe."
Honda appears to be in no rush. Like rival car maker Nissan, the company has brought intelligent driving features to existing models. Honda Sensing and AcuraWatch can handle lane assistive driving, automatic braking and collision warnings. Nissan, however, believes its new ProPilot system will be ready to handle Level 4 driving by 2020, allowing it to deploy a number of autonomous taxis during the Tokyo Olympics.
Written by Matt Brian for Engadget. Information from Reuters was included in this report.