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Honda to Conduct Self-Driving Vehicle Pilot Study in Ibaraki Pref. in Mid-Feb; EV Reserved, Summoned with Wristwatch-like Device

The Yomiuri Shimbun
One of Honda’s driverless vehicles, which can be summoned with a wristwatch-like device, is seen in Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Honda Motor Co. is set to conduct a public test of its self-driving vehicles in mid-February at the Agri-Science Valley Joso, a commercial facility in Joso, Ibaraki Prefecture.

The vehicles will operate between various sites at the location, including a Michi-no-Eki roadside rest area and a facility offering agricultural experiences. The automaker is planning to utilize the knowledge gained through the test in the development of its self-driving vehicles.

The test will use CiKoMa, a modified golf cart turned small electric vehicle (EV) developed by Honda’s affiliate, Honda R&D Co. The EV accommodates up to two passengers and uses sensors and cameras to detect buildings, people and vehicles entering and leaving the area. The test will gauge the safety of the EV.

Participants will be able to reserve and summon CiKoMa to a desired location using a special wristwatch-like device provided by Honda.

Self-driving technology is categorized into five levels according to the amount of driver involvement, with Level 5 indicating the most advanced automation. In this initial test, the vehicle will operate at Level 2 with staff on board, but Honda aims to reach Level 4 — full automation — by 2025.