CONCORD, California — Honda took another step toward bringing a self-driving car to market with Tuesday's announcement that it has begun testing an autonomous Acura RLX at a retired navy base near San Francisco.
Honda said the site is "an ideal proving ground" because it is a controlled environment that can be continuously modified to represent a wide array of settings that an automated vehicle must navigate, especially for urban operation.
The site features 20 miles of city-like roadway grids, railroad tracks and tunnels.
The modified Acura RLX flagship sedan is under development and testing there.
"New prototype sensors and cameras added to the vehicle will work hand-in-hand with the extensive array of forward, reverse and corner sensors that enable a suite of AcuraWatch safety and driver assistive technologies on the production RLX," Honda said in a statement.
Last fall, Honda demonstrated its automated technology at the ITS World Congress in Detroit. The innovations include a vehicle capable of automated freeway merging, exiting and lane changing. Another feature called "virtual tow" allows one car to lead another car to a hospital in an emergency.
Honda is one of several automakers and suppliers deep into automated driving research. Audi and Mercedes-Benz have deployed self-driving prototypes, while supplier Delphi Automotive took a self-driving car on a cross-country journey from Silicon Valley to New York last month.
Test beds for self-driving cars are springing up around the U.S.
The University of Michigan is building the Mobility Transformation Center, which lays the groundwork for a commercially viable system of connected and automated vehicles. Honda is a founding partner in that effort, which is a major public-private initiative.
Edmunds says: Another step toward making a self-driving car a reality in your driveway.