Honda has just announced that it will be starting a trial programme for autonomous vehicles in Japan, which will take place in Utsunomiya City and Haga Town in the Tochigi Prefecture. The move is a step towards realising an autonomous vehicle mobility service (Maas) business in the country, which Honda is planning to launch together with Cruise (a developer for self-driving cars) and General Motors.

During the first phase, Honda will deploy a high-definition mapping vehicle (pictured above) to create a highly detailed digital version of the trial city. This will allow the Cruise AV autonomous vehicle to be driven on public roads and self-adapt to traffic environments, as well as relevant Japanese laws and regulations.

A new operations test site will also be established within Honda’s facility in the Tochighi Prefecture, where Honda and Cruise will collaborate to develop the programme further.

When Honda’s autonomous vehicle mobility service business kicks off, it will use the Cruise Origin exclusively, which is a vehicle that will be jointly developed between Honda, Cruise and General Motors. Honda’s subsidiary firm (Honda Mobility Solutions, responsible for MaaS business) will be the operator of the business in Japan.