How Honda’s Latest SUV Takes a Big Step Toward Self-Driving Cars – Motley Fool


The Acura MDX gets a facelift for 2017. It additionally gets some brand-new standard features, including a suite of “assisted driving” systems. Image source: Honda.

Honda (NYSE:HMC) took the wraps off of its updated 2017 Acura MDX in brand-new York last week. The revamped version of MDX, a “three row” crossover SUV, gets a brand-new nose, a brand-new hybrid version, and a bunch of brand-new technology. 

The latter entails this interesting move: Honda will certainly make its latest package of assisted-driving technologies standard on every one of versions of the MDX starting along with the 2017 model.

That could not sound adore a big deal. Yet along with this move, Honda is moving another step closer to a self-driving future. Here’s why.

Standard features that aren’t far from a limited self-driving package
That package of assisted-driving technologies is called AcuraWatch. It builds on the AcuraWatch Plus package that has actually been a $1,500 option on the MDX.

Of course, it isn’t quite a self-driving package adore Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot or Tesla Motors(NASDAQ:TSLA) Autopilot, which enable for limited hands-free driving on highways under certain conditions. Yet if you haven’t bought a brand-new automobile recently, you may be surprised by simply exactly how a lot automated “assistance” you can easily grab in an SUV that will certainly begin about $44,000. 

All of these features usage radar, an onboard camera, or both. Here’s the list.

  • Collision Mitigation Braking System: Uses a forward-facing radar system to scan for objects in front of the car. If it thinks a collision is possible, it signals the driver to brake. If a collision is imminent, it automatically tightens the seatbelts and — again, automatically — slams on the brakes for you. The driver can easily adjust the system’s sensitivity, Yet it’s constantly on.
  • Lane Departure Warning: A camera mounted between the windshield and rearview mirror detects the lane markings painted on highways. If it senses that the automobile is unintentionally drifting from its lane, it beeps and warns the driver. Functions as soon as the automobile is taking a trip at highway speeds (between 45 and 90 miles per hour). can easily be switched on and off by the driver.
  • Forward Collision Warning: Uses the camera to scan for objects in front of the car. If the automobile is moving faster compared to 10 miles per hour and the system thinks a collision is possible, it beeps and flashes a warning light. can easily be switched on and off by the driver.
  • Lane Maintaining Assist: If the Lane Departure Warning system detects that the automobile is wandering from its lane on the highway, this system automatically vibrates the steering wheel (to alert the driver) and, if the driver doesn’t appropriate course, the system will certainly automatically steer the automobile spine in to its lane. Functions as soon as the automobile is taking a trip at highway speeds, can easily be switched on and off by the driver.
  • Adaptive Cruise Manage along with reduced Speed Follow: A cruise Manage system that uses radar to Maintain the automobile at a pre-set distance behind the automobile in front of it. If the automobile in front slows down or stops, the system alerts the driver and, if necessary, applies the brakes. can easily be switched on and off by the driver.
  • Road Departure Mitigation: Yet another system that will certainly automatically apply brakes and steering corrections if it detects that the automobile is regarding to wander from its lane at highway speeds. Unlike the Lane Maintaining help system, this system automatically intervenes devoid of warning the driver first. can easily be switched on and off.

Does Every one of that include up to self-driving? Not quite, and Honda doesn’t claim that it might. And if you’ve been shopping for similar vehicles recently, those features probably sound ho-hum. Yet taken together, the brand-new MDX’s functions aren’t also far behind the Tesla and Mercedes-Benz systems. 

I believe that’s a big deal.

So why is this important?
Merely put, it’s since each of these units is a building block of the self-driving cars of the near future — and they’re every one of now standard equipment on an SUV that starts at $44,000, and available on models that cost even less.

“It’s a fairly big statement on where the technology is going and exactly how democratized it’s becoming,” said Eric Lyman, vice president of strategic insights at TrueCar. Lyman notes that the AcuraWatch system was originally only available on the top-of-the-line version of the MDX. Starting later this year as soon as the 2017 models start arriving at dealers, it will certainly be standard on Every one of them. 


The 2017 Acura MDX gets a revamped interior, too. Image source: Honda.

Even within Honda’s suite of products, these features are already moving further downmarket. They’re every one of available on Honda’s compact CR-V and midsize Pilot SUVs, too. For now, the Honda-brand SUVs only offer the package on higher-degree trims. Yet still: For a little over $32,000, you can easily buy a top-of-the-line CR-V Touring that entails Every one of these very same features. And most of Honda’s rivals now offer similar packages.

Long story short: Self-driving cars could still appear futuristic. Yet even mass-market cars are now available along with features that, taken together, grab awfully close to limited self-driving functionality. The future is obtaining considerably closer.

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John Rosevear has actually no placement in any sort of stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla Motors. Attempt any sort of of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools could not every one of hold the very same opinions, Yet we every one of believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us much better investors. The Motley Fool has actually a disclosure policy.