Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo has revealed that, by 2025, the carmaker’s self-driving technology will allow passengers to sleep while on the move.
Hachigo set the goal of achieving ‘level four’ autonomy, defined as 'mind off' driving. Autonomous driving is defined by six levels, from zero to five. Under the level four terms, a driver is required to be close to the controls but does not need to observe the roads in certain circumstances, such as on motorways.
“We are looking to the realisation of a society where people do not get involved in accidents,” said Hachigo. “Additionally, we want to create products that enable people to enjoy the freedom of mobility and create cabin space that makes mobility fun. The goal is to be a world leader in collision-free and carbon-free technology.”
He outlined plans for Honda’s production cars to include semi-autonomous features by 2020, in line with plans outlined by much of the car industry, including many of Honda’s rivals. Initiatives include the use of high-precision maps and traffic data, telecommunications units and fully integrated camera-and-radar and camera-and-lidar sensors.
Typical scenarios where the systems would work include merging onto a motorway, motorway-based lane-keeping steering adjustments, automated overtaking and automated lane changing. By 2023, systems that operate in city environments would make it to production.
Hachigo said that Honda is expected to achieve level-four autonomy by developing artificial intelligence (AI) systems that can mimic a human driver, reading road conditions without the need for high-precision maps or GPS. In order to achieve this, Honda has set up a specialist division that studies data from accidents and near-miss scenarios in order for it to better understand the human behaviour that causes 90 percent of all accidents.
Honda is also looking to offer its Honda Sensing safety package – which includes features such as traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control and forward and rear collision avoidance – as an option on more of its production vehicles.