Honda Motor Company’s subsidiary, Honda R&D, has confirmed a “joint research contract” with the Chinese unicorn SenseTime Group Ltd., the Japan Times reported. SenseTime, an IT startup based in Hong Kong, was tapped by the major vehicle manufacturer for its expertise in artificial intelligence to assist in the development of self-driving vehicles. The agreement between the companies is expected to last 5 years.
SenseTime’s proficiency in moving object recognition technologies served as a feature needed by Honda to “realize a collision-free society.”
Recognition of moving objects is handled through SenseTime’s image recognition technologies. Honda noted the technology is “one of the most advanced AI technologies” available.
The press release noted areas addressed in the contract:
- Scene understanding: Estimating the driving environment and the behaviors and intentions of pedestrians and vehicles;
- Risk prediction: Predicting the future position of pedestrians and vehicles based on the results of estimating the driving environment and the intentions of pedestrians and vehicles
- Action planning: Deciding on the actions taken by the vehicle such as stopping, starting and avoiding, and then generating driving trajectory based on the results of risk prediction
As one of Japan’s top vehicle manufacturers, Honda is expected to develop automated vehicles in time for the 2025 deadline imposed by the government. Also, most of Honda’s vehicles are commonly seen in highly urbanized areas crowded with both pedestrians and vehicles.
While Honda is still in the middle of negotiations with Alphabets automated driving arm, Waymo, the Japanese manufacturer has also clarified in its press release that the partnership with SenseTime will not be limited to self-driving vehicles. There is a plan to expand contract to include robotics.
SenseTime earned unicorn status upon successfully raising $410 million in a Series B funding round in July. Chinese investment firms CDH Investments and Sailing Capital as well as Qualcomm are among the investors.
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