Honda Planning to Debut Level 3 Autonomous Car in Japan Next Year

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【Summary】The self-driving vehicle will reportedly be the first “eyes-off” autonomous vehicles on the road in the country and carry a price tag of approximately $91,000.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Dec 23, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Honda Planning to Debut Level 3 Autonomous Car in Japan Next Year

In the United States, Honda has been slow to introduce self-driving technology. While some brands, like Nissan, have rolled out autonomous tech through its luxury arm, Infiniti, Honda and Acura only offer the basic set of active safety features. Any type of autonomous capability is obviously missing. That might change soon, as Honda has plans to come out with an autonomous car next year, claims Nikkei Asian Review.

Level 3 Honda Coming Soon

According to the outlet, Honda has plans to introduce an autonomous vehicle that's capable of traveling on the road without having a driver's hands on the wheel or forcing the driver to stare straight ahead. This will be a first for Honda.

The technology will be rolled out with the Legend, which is Honda's flagship model in Japan, as early as next year. Being able to drive autonomously won't come cheap, though. The outlet states that the self-driving tech could raise the price of the vehicle to roughly $91,000, approximately 40 percent more than the current model.

Unfortunately, while hearing Honda's plans to introduce a Level 3 vehicle are a good thing, there's some debate on what a "Level 3" car will actually be able to do. According to the SAE, Level 3 systems require drivers to be available to take over controls at any time. The driver, though, doesn't have to monitor the environment at all times, so Honda's claim of not requiring drivers to watch the road or have hands on the wheel every second of a journey makes sense. The gray area comes when that becomes the expectation for 100 percent of the time.

Japan, as the outlet reports, has legislation in place that allows consumers to purchase Level 3 autonomous vehicles. Commercialization of the technology is expected to begin next year. Cost is expected to be the number one thing holding self-driving vehicles back in the country, as the first set of driverless cars will carry large price tags.

Honda Or Acura For U.S. Markets?

If, and it's a big if, Honda were to bring the tech over to the United States, it would probably be offered in one of Acura's cars. In the U.S., automakers have decided to offer autonomous systems on luxury vehicles, as they can justify the price if the cars also come packed with luxury features. We could see something similar arrive on the Acura RLX sedan on the MDX SUV.

In the U.S., the only vehicle that comes close to having a similar feature to Honda's proposed autonomous vehicle is the Cadillac CT6. General Motor's Super Cruise system allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel on mapped highway roads, but they still have to keep their eyes on the road.

Honda's decision to introduce a Level 3 vehicle before going fully autonomous reveals a move on the industry's behalf on its belief of completely self-driving cars. A lot of companies and automakers have stated that fully autonomous cars are further out than previously believed. Only ride-sharing companies like Waymo and Uber have introduced fully self driving cars that are operating on U.S. roads.

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