Honda said it’s targeting the year 2025 for the introduction of vehicles with highly automated driving capability in most driving situations, known as SAE Level 4 in the lexicon of autonomous vehicle technology.
This new goal builds upon previously announced plans for Honda and Acura vehicles to have highly automated freeway driving capability, or conditional automation (SAE Level 3), by 2020.
Honda President and CEO Takahiro Hachigo made the announcement at a media briefing held at Honda R&D Co. in Japan, where reporters were able to test drive Honda automated vehicles.
“We will strive to achieve the technological establishment of Level 4 automated driving for personal car use by around 2025,” Hachigo said. “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.”
The freeway test drive demonstration was conducted on a closed test course using a vehicle equipped with an advanced suite of sensors. The test vehicle has multiple cameras as well as five LIDAR sensors and five radar sensors.
A second driving scenario, simulating a common urban driving experience, was conducted using the latest generation of Honda artificial intelligence with Deep Learning capability. Equipped with camera sensors only and no LIDAR or GPS, Honda's AI with Deep Learning can sense and respond to complex driving environments and situations, such as roads without proper lane markings.
The system also can detect pedestrians and bicyclists at night with only partial visibility. Also, through advanced artificial intelligence, the system can improve its ability to predict an outcome and take appropriate action.
SAE International, a global association of engineers and technology experts, defines automated driving based on six levels of capability — from zero to five. SAE Level 4 or “high automation” means the vehicle can handle all driving tasks in most driving situations, with possible exceptions including inclement weather conditions or unusual driving environments where the driver might be required to assume control.
Honda is advancing its deployment of advanced safety and driver assistance technologies through the company’s Honda Sensing and AcuraWatch suite of features, which serve as a bridge to the highly automated vehicles of the future. Nearly half a million Honda and Acura vehicles on U.S. roads today are equipped with these technologies, which include autonomous emergency braking via the collision mitigation braking system, lane keeping assist, road departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control.