Japan's largest automakers are teaming up with the government, local universities, and electronics companies to make a concerted go at developing and standardizing self-driving car technology beginning later this year.
The Nikkei reports that the consortium is being spearheaded by the Japanese government, which is pitching it as more of a business conference. But the underlying motivation is to regain the ground its lost to Germany and the U.S. in the autonomous car space.
Aside from the work Google is doing on self-driving cars, Daimler and Volkswagen have been pushing hard to bring semi-autonomous technology to market. Compound that with the fact that German supplier Bosch sells more sensor systems to U.S., German, and Japanese companies than anyone else, and Japan's motivation is clear.
The meeting, which is slated for this summer, will get Honda, Nissan, and Toyota together with the University of Tokyo and Nagoya University, as well as Panasonic and Hitachi to explore the joint development of systems.
According to the Nikkei, the first step is to sit down and standardize parts and software, followed by working to ensure the technology is secure, and then get the public sector involved with vehicle-to-infrastructure projects.
In addition to the automakers and suppliers, the government could help kick in some cash for the development of testing facilities to the tune of around $84 million, something that both the U.S. and Germany have already done.