Honda president Takahiro Hachigo has just announced that Honda will complete development of fully self-driving cars by 2025. While the company aims to have level 3 — or conditionally autonomous cars requiring human intervention only in emergencies — on the road in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, these level 4 cars would require no intervention in most environments and thus bring Honda one step closer to producing fully driverless cars.
According to Hachigo, Honda's goal is to produce cars requiring no steering wheel or brake operations that are capable of driving in cities. This announcement came during a talk by the company's CEO outlining Honda's goals for the next 13 years, and it's clear that driverless cars are a major focus of the company. Based on Waymo's continued success, the partnership between Honda and Waymo that was vaguely discussed in December will likely help the automaker achieve this 2025 goal, although not much is known about how the companies are collaborating.
With 2025 eight years away, this announcement puts Honda slightly behind its competitors. Tesla has already announced that it tentatively aims to release fully self-driving cars by 2019, and GM CEO Marry Barra stated in December that GM is at the head of the driverless pack.
We expect to be the first high-volume auto manufacturer to build fully autonomous vehicles in a mass-production assembly plant.
Ford has already promised level 4 driverless cars by 2021. Fiat-Chrysler, BMW, and Volvo are also aiming for 2021, and Renault-Nissan's partnership with Microsoft should get fully driverless cars on the road by 2025. While not all of these carmakers have clearly identified the level of automation they're working towards for each of these release dates, it's certain that they're each fighting to produce the most advanced driverless car of the bunch.