A little earlier in the year, Honda announced that they were aiming to have an autonomous car on the market by 2020. They're late to the autonomous car game, but then again you would expect them to be as their company has prioritized the driving experience over a great many things. But what matters more than when you join is how good your product is. To get the ball rolling, Honda has entered formal discussions with Alphabet Inc. (basically Google), and they intend to work with the Waymo project in order to develop their own self driving car.
The collaboration may work on many different levels, but perhaps the simplest is that Honda can initially provide Waymo with cars that can accomodate Waymo's driving sensors, software, and computing platforms. These Hondas would join the existing Waymo fleet across the United States and be tested in real world situations. Should the agreement work out, Honda's top engineers from both the states and Japan will work closely with Waymo engineers in California and Michigan.
It's an exciting step forward for Honda, a company that usually plays things close to the vest and develops their technology in house. It's likely that they realized they wouldn't be able to develop self-driving technology in the next 4 years if they intend to meet their goal, so the next best thing is to talk to the people who do. Honda also believes that their R&D teams will find more interesting solutions to any current issues, and knowing their culture it's more than likely they will have something solid to offer in return.