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Honda Motor has announced that it will collaborate with Cruise and General Motors on self-driving vehicles for its autonomous vehicle mobility service business in Japan, based on the development and commercial agreements signed in October 2018.

Cruise will be sending the first of its self-driving test vehicles to Japan and start development for testing this year.

Later on, Honda plans to launch its autonomous vehicle mobility service business using the Cruise Origin, a vehicle the three companies are jointly developing exclusively for autonomous vehicle mobility service businesses. Honda Mobility Solutions will be the operator of such business in Japan.

Dan Ammann, CEO of Cruise, said, “Cruise’s mission to provide safer, cleaner and more accessible transportation is not limited to the US. These are major changes that are needed almost everywhere in the world, and this is a small, but symbolic step with Honda on our global journey."

Takahiro Hachigo, President & Representative Director, Honda Motor, said, “This collaboration with Cruise will enable the creation of new value for mobility and people’s daily lives, which we strive for under Honda’s 2030 Vision of serving people worldwide with the joy of expanding their life’s potential. Through active collaboration with partners who share the same interests and aspirations, Honda will continue to accelerate the realisation of our autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan."

Last year, GM showed off its self-driving Cruise Origin shuttle with no room for a driver. The vehicle was developed with Honda Motor, which took a minority stake in Cruise in 2018 in an effort to catch up with rivals in developing a technology with enormous costs and risk and no market-ready products.

The shuttle, called Origin, is designed to be more spacious and passenger-friendly than a conventional, human-driven car. The silver, squared-off vehicle lacks traditional controls like pedals and a steering wheel, freeing up room for multiple people to share rides.

The Origin is trying to change the whole idea of a passenger vehicle. At least four people can fit in the shuttle facing each other while the vehicle drives itself. Unlike many autonomous test vehicles, the sensors and lidar that act as the vehicle’s eyes are better integrated into the body of the vehicle.