Honda tests self-driving cars in Concord

Honda is revving up testing of self-driving cars in the Bay Area.

The auto maker announced Tuesday that has started testing technology for autonomous vehicles and connected cars at the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Honda is joining Mercedes-Benz at the “GoMentum Station,” a 5,000 acre facility at the former East Bay military base that has been rebranded a secure testing ground for autonomous vehicles. The station is private, but it holds 20 miles of paved roadway grids and other buildings that mimic an urban environment, Honda said.

“The Concord Naval Weapons Station is an ideal proving ground to augment Honda’s research and development efforts 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,” Paul Cummings, who works in automated vehicle research for Honda, said in a statement. “This program will bring a new level of robustness to Honda’s industry-leading efforts in the area of automated and connected vehicle technology.”

Honda will also join a group dedicated to establishing Contra Costa County as a hub for self-driving car technology. Concord May Tim Grayson hailed the partnership.

“The City of Concord is very pleased to see Honda bring its advanced automated vehicle research to Contra Costa,” he said in a statement. “We’re very hopeful this partnership will continue to support economic growth and spur excitement for hi-tech jobs in our community.”

A Honda spokesman told SiliconBeat that the auto maker has not applied for a permit to test self-driving cars on public roads in California – a step taken by Google, Mercedes, Nissan and other companies – but has not ruled out doing so in the future.

Like other major auto manufacturers, Honda already had a robust presence in the Bay Area, which has emerged as a prime site for the re-imagination of the car. The autonomous vehicle project is being overseen by Honda Research Institute USA, which has an office in Mountain View.

Above: An Acura RLX is tested at the GoMentum station (Honda).

 

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