Honda is targeting the year 2025 for the introduction of vehicles with highly-automated driving capability in most driving situations (SAE Level 4), which builds upon earlier-announced plans for Honda and Acura vehicles to have highly-automated freeway driving capability (SAE Level 3) by 2020.
The SAE defines Level 4 or ‘high automation’ as a vehicle that can handle all driving tasks in most driving situations, with possible exceptions including inclement weather conditions or unusual driving environments, where the driver would be required to resume control. The new targets are critical steps in Honda’s commitment to contribute to a collision-free society. The announcement was made by Honda Motor’s president and CEO, Takahiro Hachigo, at a briefing held at the company’s R&D headquarters in Japan, where the media were able to test drive Honda automated vehicle technologies in several complex driving scenarios, including systems with advanced artificial intelligence (AI).
The freeway driving test-drive demonstration was conducted on a closed test course using a vehicle equipped with an advanced suite of sensors, showing the capability for automated driving system usage on a multi-lane freeway in the presence of traffic. The test vehicle uses an advanced sensor package, which includes multiple cameras, as well as five lidar and five radar sensors.
A second driving scenario, simulating a common urban driving experience, was conducted using the latest generation of Honda artificial intelligence (AI) with Deep Learning capability. Equipped with camera sensors only and no lidar or GPS, Honda’s AI can sense and respond to complex driving environments and situations, such as roads without proper lane markings. The system can also detect pedestrians and bicyclists at night with only partial visibility, and through the accumulation of experience, using advanced AI, the system can improve its ability to predict an outcome and take appropriate action.
The company is rapidly advancing its deployment of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies in Honda and Acura vehicles on the road today, through its Sensing and AcuraWatch suite of features, which serve as both a perceptual and technological bridge to the highly-automated vehicles the future.
“We will strive to achieve the technological establishment of Level 4 automated driving for personal car use by around 2025,” said 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.”