Honda to Launch Mobility Service in Japan, Testing Begins This Month

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In the not-so-distant future, we could be hearing of autonomous vehicle mobility services all over the world. China and the U.S. may be at the forefront, but the robotaxi “bug” is spreading fast. After a new mobility service began operating in Russia, Japan is the next launching-pad for another big name’s mobility service.

Citizens of Utsunomiya City and Haga Town, Tochigi Prefecture, in Japan, will soon have the chance to experience the futuristic Cruise Origin – the vehicle developed by Honda, Cruise and General Motors exclusively for autonomous vehicle mobility services. The three companies announced their partnership at the beginning of 2021, based on agreements signed way back, in 2018.

It looks like now is the time to start the testing program, prior to Honda actually launching its autonomous vehicle mobility service (MaaS) business in Japan, operated by a subsidiary called Honda Mobility Solutions.

During the program, the Cruise AV (the first-generation Cruise autonomous vehicle) will be driven on public roads. The goal of the tests is to collect data regarding the traffic environment and specific regulation in Japan, so that the future AV can be adapted to these conditions. But, before the tests begin, Honda announced that a “specialized vehicle for mapping” would first be used to create a high-definition map.

The mapping phase is set to start this September, with public road tests to be conducted in 2022. Both Honda and Cruise will be involved in the program, and the Japanese company will also set up a new test site within its facility in Tochigi Prefecture.

The Cruise Origin is an autonomous vehicle definitely worth experiencing, because it’s like no other out there. With no steering wheel, pedals or mirrors, there’s no question about this futuristic vehicle’s self-driving status. This innovative design is meant to provide a more spacious cabin, where passengers can feel much more comfortable during their commute or whenever they choose to go for a ride.