Acura looks closer to fully autonomous cars with new sensors in its automated development vehicle

Every major manufacturer on this green earth of ours is on a mission to make autonomous cars a reality by 2020, and now Acura has announced its second-generation automated development vehicle. This new vehicle is a modified version of theAcura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD and is slated for testing by Honda Research Institute USA at the GoMentum Station – a 5,000-acre proving ground in San Francisco that has more than 20 miles of paved roadway grids and is specifically designed to provide a realistic urban infrastructure for testing autonomous cars.

According to Acura, this new autonomous development vehicle uses information from various sensors and puts it all together in a process known as “sensor fusion.” This process allows testers and engineers to validate information from each signal with more accuracy than ever before. In a sense, the vehicle uses radar to detection the relative position and velocity of off-board objects while the camera system is used to identify different objects based on size and shape.

This concept of “sensor fusion” isn’t exactly new, though. It is actually used by Acura’s current AcuraWatch driver assistant suite and as a basis for safety features from other vehicle manufacturers too. To build upon the current safety suite in use, the development vehicle was equipped with updated radar and Lidar sensors as well as new cameras and GPS sensors – all of which have better computer and image processors, better cabling, and improved circuitry. Furthermore, the sensors provide better heat management over the systems currently in use across Acura’s 2016 model lineup.

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Why it matters

This new automated development vehicle is a pretty big deal for Acura if it is going to improve its autonomous driving technology. Obviously, manufacturers still have a long way to go before cars can be trusted to drive themselves, but this is a step in the right direction. Manufacturers are pushing to have autonomous systems ready to go by the turn of the decade, though I don’t expect the technology to be ready by then.

In my opinion, autonomous driving won’t be perfected until we can come close to creating an artificial intelligence that can work as well as the human mind, and we’re still a long way off. That said, look for more innovations like this in the future from all manufacturers as we slowly edge closer to a reality where we don’t have to drive ourselves.

Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD Exterior
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Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert -
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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Press Release

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.

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