Honda Unveils Self-Driving Car
The Future is Now, and It's an Acura with Lasers on Top
Honda’s self-driving car prototype – an Acura RLX sedan – made its first trip to the Motor City recently to appear at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Detroit, an annual gathering of engineers and other researchers.
As part of its U.S. debut, the concept car took an eight-mile test drive around the city of Detroit, in which the driver took his hands off the wheel as he entered the highway. Honda’s prototype merged into traffic, followed the speed limit, and slowed down to the recommended 35 mph when taking an exit ramp – all by itself.
That thing on top of the car is a beacon that uses laser beams to continually scan its surroundings. GPS technology enables the car to travel on a fixed route and follow posted speed limits, while cameras monitor road markings so that the car can enter, stay in, and exit lanes as needed.
Control is automatically returned to the driver in the case of an emergency – such as another car cutting off the RLX, necessitating quick braking – which is probably going to raise a lot of questions about whether the car or the driver is liable in the case of an accident. The overall goal, though, is to reduce the number of collisions.
“Honda is aiming to eliminate accidents, not just for the driver but for pedestrians and drivers of other cars,” said Hironobu Kiryu, the car’s chief engineer. Kiryu and his team worked on this prototype for roughly a year in Japan, but it represents the culmination of decades of safety research.
There were rumors that the latest 2015 Acura TLX would feature self-driving capabilities, although those reports turned out to be false. Acura poked fun at the confusion in their huge ad campaign for the newest TLX.
Honda hasn’t set an exact release date for this yet, but industry analysts predict self-driving models could be available by 2020, so apparently that old sixties novelty song “In the Year 2525” was right. If you’ll recall, one of the verses promised:
“In the year 5555
Your arms hangin’ limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin’ to do
Some machine’s doin’ that for you”
Who knew that the machine that eventually devolved us from bipedal creatures into technology-dependant, immobile life-forms would be the Acura RLX sedan?