Autonomous driving technology developed by Honda will allow occupants of its vehicles to sleep while on the go by 2025, said Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo. Level four autonomous driving has been set as Honda’s goal to achieve, defined as ‘mind off’ driving.

Autonomous driving is defined by six levels, levels zero to five, and level four requires the driver to be close to the controls be can be freed from observing conditions in certain circumstances, such as on motorways. The upcoming D5-generation Audi A8 is set to debut with level three autonomy, which enables it to change lanes between 80 km/h and 180 km/h, for example.

“We are looking to the realisation of a society where people do not get involved in accidents. Additionally, we want to create products that enable people to enjoy the freedom of mobility and create cabin space that makes mobility fun. The goal is to be a world leader in collision-free and carbon-free technology,” said Hachigo.

The company’s CEO outlined plans for Honda’s production models to have semi-autonomous features by 2020, in line with plans made by the Japanese automaker’s rivals and the rest of the car industry. High-precision maps and traffic data, telecommunications units and fully integrated camera-and-radar, as well as camera-and-lidar, and sensors are part of the plan.

In order to attain level four autonomy, Honda expects to develop artificial intelligence (SI) systems which are able to mimic a human driver, in reading road conditions without assistance from high-precision maps or GPS.

A specialist division was set up within Honda in order to study data from accidents and near-misses to better understand human behaviour, which is said to cause 90% of all accidents. Many of the engineers working on this project have previously worked on the Asimo humanoid robots, which were studies in mimicing human behaviour.

“Ultimately, Honda envisions that development of its AI systems could result in an automated vehicle that responds like a human driver. In other words, one that is able to stop and go, follow the road, make turns at junctions and react to other vehicles using only the same visual information as a human – without high-precision maps or GPS,” Hachigo added.

The Japanese manufacturer also has plans to offer as an option its Honda Sensing safety package on more of its vehicles, which includes traffic sign recognition, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, plus forward and rear collision avoidance.