Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Automakers Unleash Self-Driving Cars At Shows
TOKYO (Nikkei)--Honda Motor Co. (7267) has demonstrated its latest advances in self-driving technology at an intelligent transportation system expo this week as competitors have touted their own.
Honda unveiled a self-driving car based on the new Accord Hybrid at the ITS World Congress, running an outdoor demonstration at about 20kph.
- "Look, no hands!"
The company uses motion analysis technology from its Asimo humanoid robot to help the vehicle recognize pedestrians and decide how to react to them. The car employs mounted cameras to check the positions of nearby pedestrians, applying the brakes if it determines that someone is about to cross the road. It can communicate wirelessly with software on pedestrians' smartphones as well, helping to avoid collisions when someone suddenly emerges from a blind spot.
Honda also showed off a function that enables the car to use data from security cameras at a parking lot to find and take an open space without driver intervention.
Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) revealed an automatic driving system to the press ahead of the event. The test vehicle drove itself on Tokyo-area expressways in a demonstration, using cameras and radar to detect lines on the road and the trajectories of vehicles ahead.
Nissan Motor Co. (7201) demonstrated at a different expo this month a self-driving vehicle, based on the Leaf electric car, that can detect oncoming vehicles and navigate intersections.
With automakers aiming for zero traffic fatalities, self-driving cars are considered the ultimate safety technology, removing human error from the equation.
"By combining (self-driving capabilities) with ecologically friendly cars such as electric vehicles, we can solve the auto industry's two major problems: environmental issues and traffic accidents," Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga says.
Honda made no definite statements about when its offering would be available. Toyota aims to roll out its driver support system in mid-decade. Nissan had already announced its intent to put a self-driving car on the market by 2020.
(The Nikkei, Oct. 16 morning edition)