The road to autonomous, self-driving cars is leading to new partnerships with major Asian brands that are helping to fuel the momentum. 

Honda is joining General Motors and Cruise to develop self-driving vehicles on a large scale. Honda is contributing $2.75 billion to this new collaboration. The Japanese automaker has previously worked with GM on electric cars.

Meanwhile, Toyota and SoftBank are setting up a joint venture called MONET Technologies Corporation. The collaboration will draw on technology from Toyota's Mobility Services Platform and SoftBank's Internet of Things Platform. Initially they plan to provide on-demand transportation for public agencies and private companies.  It could lead to autonomous mobility as a service including delivering meals and providing hospital shuttles. Right now their plans are only for Japan, but they hope to expand globally.

When cars can fully drive themselves… and no longer have a steering wheel… what happens if you need to- for emergency sake-- drive it yourself? Well one domestic automaker is thinking about that. 

Recently Ford was awarded a U.S. patent for what they call “non-autonomous steering modes”. It basically allows a mobile device… like a smartphone, to sync up with the car’s computer. The patent mentions two different ways to steer the car. The first one involves physically turning the smartphone to steer the wheel. The second one is a “virtual steering wheel” on the smartphone. The patent says the technology would turn the wheels in the direction --and at the rate—the driver is using the mobile device.

Another new twist in the ever-evolving technology of autonomous driving. And that does it for this week’s Motor News.