At Honda’s Silicon Valley Lab, riding shotgun with Google, Apple, Visa, and others

By Stephen Ellison, Contributing Writer

In Silicon Valley, the hype around autonomous vehicles and autopilot systems has been growing louder by the week. And Honda is determined not to be left behind: it has created a testing area with 20 miles of roadway on a former Navy base.

nicksugimotoBut the carmaker’s Silicon Valley Lab, not far from Google HQ in Mountain View, is also working on nearer-term goals: making the driving experience better and safer; connecting cars to the cloud; and bringing new kinds of apps and entertainment experiences into the vehicle.

Naoki “Nick” Sugimoto, right, is the senior program director at the Honda Silicon Valley Lab in Mountain View, California. His role involves seeking out and evaluating the latest technologies that could be applied to the automotive industry, as well as connecting with the startup community and crafting partnerships that can deliver value to Honda and its customers in a region rife with cutting-edge companies. Honda has had a presence in the Valley since 2000, but it opened a new facility in mid-2015. Sugimoto reports to Katsufumi (Kei) Nagatome, the Division Director for the Silicon Valley Lab.

While it began life as a computer science-focused research outpost, and then added a venture capital team in 2005, the Silicon Valley site is now a full-fledged innovation hub for the company. Sugimoto explained how it’s set up.

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