Waymo, the now independent self-driving vehicle technology arm of Google (well, technically, Alphabet), is now in formal talks with Honda about a potential partnership, according to recent reports.
Such a partnership would be an addition to Waymo’s already close ties with Fiat-Chrysler — ties which are demonstrated well in the recently revealed self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrids that we reported on last week.
As far as a partnerships with Honda, it would reportedly function similarly to the one with a Fiat-Chrysler, whereby Waymo supplies self-driving software and sensors to be used in and integrated with Honda vehicles (with the help of engineers from the auto manufacturer).
A press release from Honda notes:
Honda R&D Co., Ltd., the R&D subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., announced today that it is entering into formal discussions with Waymo, an independent company of Alphabet Inc., to integrate its self-driving technology with Honda vehicles. This technical collaboration between Honda researchers and Waymo’s self-driving technology team would allow both companies to learn about the integration of Waymo’s fully self-driving sensors, software and computing platform into Honda vehicles.
As part of the discussion on technical collaboration, Honda could initially provide Waymo with vehicles modified to accommodate Waymo’s self-driving technology. These vehicles would join Waymo’s existing fleet, which are currently being tested across four U.S. cities.
If both parties agree to enter into a formal agreement, Honda R&D engineers based in Silicon Valley, California and Tochigi, Japan, would work closely with Waymo engineers based in Mountain View, California and Novi, Michigan.
Honda previously announced its intention to put production vehicles with automated driving capabilities on highways sometime around 2020 related to its goal of a collision-free society. In addition to these on-going efforts, this technical collaboration with Waymo could allow Honda R&D to explore a different technological approach to bring fully self-driving technology to market. These discussions are an initial step that will allow Waymo and Honda R&D to further explore the potential of a broad range of automated driving technologies.
As alluded to above, Waymo recently received the first 100 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans developed with Fiat-Chrysler engineers and active testing of the vehicles is now underway. While it’s hard to tell exactly where Waymo’s technology is, the move to independence and the growing partnerships with established auto manufacturers suggests that they probably aren’t far away from the goal of fully autonomous-driving tech.
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