Waymo enters formal talks with Honda to collaborate on self-driving

Former Google self-driving car project Waymo is wasting no time demonstrating its readiness to enter into commercial agreements — the Alphabet-owned autonomous driving technology company is in formal discussions with Honda on partnering up to use Waymo self-driving software and sensors on Honda vehicles.

Honda announced the discussions, which preface a potential collaboration between the two companies, via press release on Wednesday. The automaker would provide engineers that would work hand-in-hand with Waymo engineers to develop vehicles intended to join with Waymo’s current fleet of test cars.

Honda positions this as a parallel effort to its own “on-going” attempts to bring automated driving to highways for its customers sometime around 2020. It says the Waymo tie-up would “allow Honda R&D to explore a different technological approach to bring fully self-driving technology to market,” alongside what it’s already working on via its Silicon Valley Lab and through engineering efforts based out of Tochigi, Japan.

Waymo also just took possession of 100 test Chrysler Pacifica minivans from Honda competitor FCA, and will deploy those in its fleet, as well. This new potential partnership with Honda, if it progresses beyond this formal discussion stage, shows how potentially well-positioned it could be as a key supplier of autonomous tech to automakers down the road.

At Waymo’s official unveiling earlier this month, the company went to considerable lengths to outline its position as a potential partner and supplier of self-driving tech to OEMs. It’ll have competition from others, including BlackBerry, Delphi and Mobileye, and potentially even Nvidia at some point down the road, but the project kicked off in 2009 at Google X and it’s clearly seeing the benefits of its early focus on true Level 4 and Level 5 autonomy (which is to say¬†self-driving that requires no human intervention, or even pedals or a steering wheel) pay off in terms of its appeal as a technology partner.