Will Honda and Google Partner on Self-Driving Cars?

26 Dec

Honda has announced it is discussing testing Waymo’s self-driving technology in some of its vehicles. Waymo is a unit of Google’s parent company Alphabet and currently has 58 self-driving cars on U.S. roads.

Under the proposed partnership, Honda’s vehicles would probably join Waymo’s fleet of test cars rather than be offered for sale and Waymo’s sensors, computers and software would be tested in Honda’s vehicles.

The talks are occurring against the backdrop of a battle between Silicon Valley and traditional auto makers to control self-driving technology. Tech firms like Waymo and Uber have moved forward swiftly. Some automakers have responded by developing their own systems, while others are collaborating with tech companies. For instance, Volvo and Uber are working together.

The partnership could help Waymo improve its position as a supplier of self-driving technology. Waymo is vying with firms such as Delphi Automotive, which also wants to play a leading role in the development of autonomous vehicles.

A successful partnership between Honda and Waymo would fit with Waymo’s strategy of joining with smaller auto makers that have limited research budgets. Executives at Honda and Fiat Chrysler have said their companies can’t afford to invest as much in self-driving technology as heavyweight competitors such as General Motors, Ford and Toyota.

“Waymo should be a one-stop shop for Honda” in self-driving technology, Dave Sullivan, an analyst for AutoPacific, told The Wall Stret Journal. “This could free up resources at Honda.”