Honda today announced it would start a testing programme for autonomous vehicles this month, taking a step toward an autonomous vehicle mobility service (MaaS) business in Japan, which the automaker is planning to launch under collaboration with Cruise and General Motors with whom it has an EV collaboration deal.

The testing programme for autonomous vehicles would be conducted in Utsunomiya City  (Honda’s R&D centre is nearby) and Haga Town, Tochigi Prefecture.

As the first step to prepare for thorough testing, a high-definition map of the area would be created using a specialised vehicle for mapping. Once the high-definition map is ready, the autonomous vehicle, Cruise AV, would be driven on public roads to develop and test autonomous vehicles adapted to the traffic environment and the relevant laws and regulations in Japan.

Honda and Cruise would work jointly on the testing programme and also it would be pursued at a new operations test site to be established within a Honda facility in Tochigi Prefecture.

Further ahead, Honda aims to launch its autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan using the Cruise Origin, a vehicle jointly developed by Honda, Cruise and General Motors, exclusively for autonomous vehicle mobility service businesses.

Honda Mobility Solutions, a subsidiary, would be the operator of such business in Japan.