Vote for the Tech CARS Awards deadline is 1/31.

Honda self-driving Acura RLX testing at former Concord Naval base

Acura_RLX_at_GoMentum_StationThere is a great connection between the world of defense and car companies. Nissan is working with NASA and Valeo is working with defense contractor Safran. What’s the best use for an abandoned military base? Honda is joining the self-driving explosion by using the abandoned roads of the Concord Naval Weapons Station in the East Bay area of California to test its self-driving cars.

Honda reported that it is has begun testing its autonomous car features at the base in Concord, California. The base as many features including various landscapes, railroad tracks, tunnels and a whole street grid formerly used in Word War II for shipping naval munitions. A Bay Area Rapid Transit train runs through the facility.

The 5,000 acre site was closed in 2007 and in being transferred to the city of Concord. It has twenty miles of paved road. The facility is run by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and is called GoMentum Station. Mercedes-Benz has tested its self-driving cars there, in the past.

The abandoned base makes for a perfect testing ground because it has crumbling pavement, many terrains and it is away from real drivers.

Honda will test the Acura’s RLX with prototype sensors and cameras that will be added to the  forward, reverse and corner sensors in AcuraWatch, already available on the vehicle.

Honda previously demoed a prototype with highway merging, lane changing, highway following, vehicle-to-vehicle virtual tow and highway exiting in Detroit at ITS World Congress

Honda also will work with a group committed to making the base a premier automated driving testing facility.

Honda’s supports safety with rearview cameras offered as standard equipment on all model year 2015 Honda and Acura vehicles.

Honda Research Institute USA (HRI-US) was founded in 2003 and is headquartered in Silicon Valley.

Hyundai, yesterday, reported that it is testing self-driving Hyundai features and expects autonomous models by 2020.

The Concord Naval Weapons Station is best known for the Port Chicago disaster in 1944. A massive ammunition explosion caused the largest number of  African American deaths in any incident during World War II. concordweaponsbase

The Concord NWS is a Superfund cleanup site. Areas are contaminated with heavy metals, semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOC) and organochloride pesticides. At a community near a former military base in Riverside, California, Camp Anza, many people and pets living nearby, developed cancer and died.

We suggest that Honda engineers stay in their cars and stay clear of the munitions areas and wear their best hazmat suits.