Second generation of the self-driving test car has revised hardware.
Acura is continuing its research into autonomous-car technology with an updated version of its RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD sedan. The second-generation self-driving prototype has wholly revised hardware and software, which Acura says allows engineers to put the car through “more complex testing scenarios.”
As before, the Acura RLX prototype uses radar and lidar sensors to determine the position and speed of other vehicles and obstacles, plus cameras to help detect the size and type of nearby objects, and GPS for navigation. Compared to the first version, this self-driving Acura RLX has more powerful processing units with better heat management and more compact cables and circuitry, Acura says. The sedan’s roof-mounted sensors are also considerably more compact and less obtrusive than on an earlier version of the RLX prototype (pictured in gallery below.)
Acura will test the RLX at GoMentum Station near San Francisco, a 5,000-acre facility with 20 miles of paved roadways designed specifically for testing autonomous and connected cars. The facility was formerly home to the Concord Naval Weapons Station, which closed in 2007. Acura and Honda also are partnering with the MCity autonomous-car test track in Michigan.
Like many other automakers, Honda and Acura are putting serious resources behind the development of self-driving cars. In a presentation in January, American Honda Motor Co. executive vice president John Mendel said the automaker planned to introduce autonomous vehicles by the end of this decade.
“We're targeting 2020 for the introduction of highly automated vehicles on U.S. highways,” he said. “Automated and connected vehicle technologies carry with them the promise of a truly transformed mobility experience.”
Gallery: Acura RLX Autonomous Prototypes
Acura has revealed its second generation automated development vehicle in California, a modified version of the RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD™ luxury performance sedan. The RLX has been fitted with a new suite of radar, Lidar, camera and GPS sensors, complemented by higher performance CPUs and GPUs, and improved cabling, heat management and circuitry. These enhancements have been combined with new, more intelligent software algorithms to support more complex testing scenarios.
The development vehicle is designed to achieve high reliability by fusing overlapping information together from various sensors. This concept, known as sensor fusion, allows test engineers to validate information from each signal with a higher degree of accuracy than can be obtained from any one of the sensors independently. For example, the vehicle's radar sensors are adept at detecting the relative position and velocity of off-board objects with pinpoint accuracy, while the camera system is best suited to help detect and identify objects based on size and shape. This same concept is applied in the AcuraWatch™ safety and driver-assistive suite available on all model year 2016 Acura sedans and SUVs.
The vehicle will be tested by Honda Research Institute USA at GoMentum Station, a 5,000-acre automated and connected vehicle proving ground in the San Francisco Bay Area. GoMentum Station contains 20-miles of paved, city-like roadway grids, buildings and other urban infrastructure, providing a realistic environment that will help accelerate the development of automated and connected vehicle technologies. This testing program is aligned with the company's goal to introduce automated driving technologies around 2020.
About Acura Active Safety
Safety performance has been a core element of Acura's commitment to excellence since the brand was founded three decades ago. All model year 2016 Acura sedans and SUVs are available with AcuraWatch™, one of the most advanced suites of safety and driver-assistive technologies in the class. AcuraWatch includes Adaptive Cruise Control, a Lane Keeping Assist System, Road Departure Mitigation and a Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (an AEB technology) with pedestrian-sensing capability.
About Honda Research Institute USA
Honda Research Institute USA (HRI-US) conducts research in the areas of computer and materials science, and develops strategic partnerships with public and private institutions to foster innovation. HRI-US was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Silicon Valley.