Honda is increasing its efforts in exploring self-driving technology capable of dealing with China’s road conditions through a partnership with Chinese autonomous vehicle startup AutoX. The Chinese company is seen as a market leader in this field and is currently operating a robotaxi pilot program that does not need backup drivers in Shenzhen.
The Japanese automaker will provide its Accord and Inspire vehicles that will be equipped with Alibaba-backed AutoX’s autonomous vehicle technology for use of road tests on China’s public roads, AutoX said in a statement emailed to Caixin on Friday.
Honda aims to use the road tests to deepen its understanding of China’s traffic environment, establish the public acceptance for autonomous vehicles as the company seeks new autonomous driving technology solutions, the statement said.
In 2015, Honda started installing Honda Sensing, its intelligent suite of safety and driver assistance technologies designed to alert drivers dangers they might miss while driving, in a wide range of its products sold in China. In March this year, the company launched a revamped Legend sedan powered by Level 3 autonomous driving technology in Japan, which the country’s transport ministry touted as the world’s first car to hit the market that allows drivers to engage in certain activities even when the car is in certain circumstances such as driving through congested traffic on expressways.
The tie-up between Honda and AutoX marks the latest example of a conventional carmaker and a tech company pairing up to delve into smart vehicles.
In January, AutoX, which received permission to test a highly autonomous vehicle without a driver behind the wheel in California last July, opened its robotaxi pilot program to the general public in Shenzhen, where it is headquartered. The move allows users to hail autonomous taxis that do not have safety drivers. The company is also trialing its robotaxi services in Shanghai and Wuhan. The trials require backup drivers to sit in the cars and take control in case of an emergency.
Contact reporter Ding Yi (email@example.com)