A Peek at Honda’s Ghost Town
A Peek at Honda’s Ghost Town for Testing Self-Driving Cars
Where better to test autonomous cars than in a spooky, abandoned neighborhood?
It may not make sense to you but clearly it made sense to Honda, because that’s where they’ve been testing for a while now.
The edge of Concord, a San Francisco suburb, is Honda’s ghost town.
It looks like something you’d see in an old scary movie.
This creepy little town now only serves as a home to wild animal friends and a testing lab for Honda’s new self-driving cars.
And I know what you’re thinking.
Don’t the faded lane markers and cracked asphalt make it difficult for the car to figure out what’s going on around it?
But that’s what you want when training a self-driving system.
Think about it.
Think about how many roads you have to deal with on a daily basis that are in extreme need of repair?
The autonomous vehicles may be an automotive advancement, but they aren’t a miracle.
They aren’t going to magically fix the potholes and faded lane markers they encounter (well at least the first generation ones won’t; I have no idea what the future holds).
If you have to navigate through those obstacles, your car should be able to, as well.
That’s the purpose of the training course through the old neighborhood.
That puts things into context for the car, which makes the training more effective.
Honda has been making some significant progress with these vehicles.
In a demo, the Acura RLX didn’t hit either of the pedestrians walking across its path, stopped at stop signs, and maneuvered around a mannequin that was placed in the middle of the road.
That’s not bad for this early in the game.
The way these cars drive may be boring to some people, but boring driving is safe driving.
With no human in control, you’re going to want something that is safe and steady.
The plan is for these vehicles to hit markets by 2020.
Before then, the cute little neighborhood that is currently being used for testing is going to need to be amped up a bit.
This is all in the interests of the company, but maybe not for the woodland friends who live there.
Maybe they’ll be okay with it if they get to test drive one of the cars.
If nothing else, it would be an internet sensation.