Honda has started formal talks with Google’s self-driving division to develop another autonomous vehicle for its burgeoning test program. The Japanese automaker revealed the news on Thursday.
Waymo, the newly named self-driving division of Alphabet, recently refitted 100 Fiat Chrysler minivans with its latest self-driving tech. A similar deal could be in play with Honda, though the firm said it wouldn’t stop its own self-driving program.
“In addition to these on-going efforts, this technical collaboration with Waymo could allow Honda research and development to explore a different technological approach to bring fully self-driving technology to market,” said Honda in a press release.
Honda already has a vehicle, the Civic LX Sedan, with semi-autonomous features like lane changes and automatic braking on board. It previewed an autonomous car earlier this year, with a launch date of somewhere near 2020.
A lot of strange relationships
That makes the potential partnership between the two companies all the more strange. Most automakers are attempting to go it alone, avoiding entanglements with others. BMW recently ditched Baidu, citing irreconcilable differences, and natural partners like Ford and Uber have avoided any formal agreements.
While Honda said the agreement will benefit both firms, it seems to sway more in Waymo’s favor; which needs a strong portfolio of partners if it is going to compete against Tesla, Uber, and Ford in the near future.
One of Waymo’s options when it comes to commercialization could be licensing tech to automakers, though that doesn’t seem like the prefered route. Instead, we expect Waymo to push a new ride-hailing service, giving manufacturers part of the revenue generated.