Honda has just been granted permission from the Department of Motor Vehicles to have its self-driving cars tested on the public roads of California.
According to company representatives, the Japanese car manufacturer will be trying out its driverless technology initially within the perimeters of a secure testing facility in Concord, California, northeast of San Francisco. Afterwards, the private trials will be extended to public roads, where the autonomous cars will travel alongside automobiles steered and controlled by humans.
California isn’t the only state which welcomes robotic automobiles on its public roads. Michigan, Florida and Nevada have also been forthcoming in allowing the testing of such vehicles which could revolutionize modern transportation.
Honda has already incorporated driver-assistance systems into the design of classic Honda models, as well as into its luxury brand, Acura. However, greater autonomy is still sought, so that eventually cars will be advanced enough to drive themselves, while ensuring the safety and comfort of their passengers.
As a result, the car-maker has joined the Autonomous Vehicle Tester Program, which so far includes 9 other companies: Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen Group of America, Google (in partnership with Lexus), BMW, Nissan, Bosch, Tesla Motors, Cruise Automation and Delphi Automotive.
These contenders have already received such authorizations from state officials, thus allowing them to conduct public, on-road trials for their innovative designs. Google has already completed more than 1.8 million miles of autonomous and manual driving, and reported just 13 minor fender-benders, all of them having been caused by the other car involved in the incident.
Similarly, Delphi’s Audi has recently become the first car to carry out a cross-country trip while in automated mode.
Huge investments have been made in this field, which shows that the stakes are high and the competition is fierce. One such example is Mcity, a $10 million testing ground located within the perimeters of the University of Michigan, where more than 60 companies will collaborate with researchers in order to advance driverless technology.
There are widespread rumors that Apple is designing its own autonomous vehicle and has been negotiating the purchase of the GoMentum Station, a testing facility which could be used for such trials. According to Apple investor Car Icahn, the “Titan” project which aims to develop the ultimate electric car will be finalized in 5 years, when the closely-guarded invention will enter the market.
Based on estimations formulated by Google, Faraday Future and other companies involved in this race, cars that drive themselves may be commonplace in the not so distant future, since it is expected that the technology for building such models will be in function by 2020.
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