One of the most popular automobile manufacturers on the planet, Honda, has finally revealed its plans to get automated vehicles on the road bearing its branding. Under its plan, the company wants to have vehicles rated at SAE 4 in cities by 2025. Importantly, SAE level 4 systems don't require human interaction to maintain vehicular control under normal circumstances. Under other circumstances, such as during bad weather, the driver may have to assume some or all control of the vehicle. That may not sound super optimistic, with consideration for plans from other automakers, but the Japan-based company doesn't plan to keep all of its progress to itself in the meantime, either. In 2020, Honda plans to have the beginnings of a highway-ready semi-autonomous system in place.
By taking a slower approach, Honda is playing it smart. A large part of its revealed plans pertains to keeping things cost-effective, which may be why the company is planning to take the longer approach since that will result in associated costs being spread out over more time. Additionally, Honda is also increasing and improving the coordinated efforts between its manufacturing teams and its R&D departments, in an effort to avoid pitfalls and maintain a higher lever of consistency between plans and end products – and therefore to reduce overall costs. Additionally, the bad publicity that can result from any first-release product – and Tesla is a prime example of this – can likely be avoided by not rushing to claim "first."
In the meantime, the company also plans to continue working on two other areas that it believes are consistent with the goals of automobile autonomy. Of course, Honda is thinking of the safety of its vehicle lineup. That will definitely need to see some improvement before many naysayers begin to trust putting their lives into the hands – for lack of a better word – of machines. But the automaker also plans to continue ramping up on how green its vehicles are. The monitoring and computer systems that go into a self-driving car are undoubtedly important. However, it is important for the vehicles to modernize alongside the technology industry in other ways, creating a more cogent system overall. It can also help with the image, with consideration for the public perception swinging towards a more favorable view of green technologies. On that front, Honda wants to raise the number of vehicles in its fleet that are hybrid, battery-powered, or hydrogen fuel-cell-powered from 5 percent to two-thirds by 2030. All of that aside, anybody who's interested can check out a video of Honda's efforts so far in the video below.