Honda Legend Sedan Offering Level 3 Self-Driving Technology in Japan

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【Summary】Honda’s claiming that it’s the first automaker to have a production vehicle with a Level 3 autonomous system with the Legend Hybrid EX, which is only available to lease in Japan.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 14, 2021 7:30 AM PT
Honda Legend Sedan Offering Level 3 Self-Driving Technology in Japan

While fully autonomous vehicles aren't on sale at the moment, automakers and companies are inching closer and closer to selling cars that can handle most of the driving. We've seen hands-free systems like General Motors' Super Cruise and Tesla's Autopilot that can do a variety of semi-autonomous things, but the majority of systems available today are Level 2 systems. According to the SAE, there are five levels of autonomy, so we're still a long way away from having fully autonomous cars. Honda has taken a major step in getting there, as it's the first automaker to receive official recognition for having a Level 3 driver-assist system that consumers can buy.

Hands-Free Driving

Recently, Honda announced that a limited number of Legend sedans will be sold in Japan with a Level 3 semi-autonomous system. The Level 3 system in the Legend sedan will be called Honda Sensing Elite with Traffic Jam Pilot. On roads that have well-defined markings, the system will also offer hands-free driving. On highways, the system will allow drivers to take their hands off the wheel when lane-keeping assist is enabled. Lane changes can be made with driver approval or without any assistance with the Active Lane Change function enabled.

All of these features, though, are things we've seen in vehicles before. What's new is something that's called Traffic Jam Pilot. This system is what gives the Legend sedan its Level 3 capability, which means the car can handle both driving the vehicle without any input from the driver and observe its surroundings. Even in Level 3 autonomy, the vehicle can only be semi-autonomous in certain conditions – like divided highways and mapped roads.

In certain conditions, Honda's Traffic Jam Pilot can steer, accelerate, and stop the vehicle without any input from the driver. Unlike other available systems, drivers do not have to monitor the vehicle – that's the key part here. While Autopilot and Super Cruise are available to consumers in the U.S., people that purchase a Legend sedan in Japan won't have to constantly make sure the vehicle is going in a straight line. That means the driver can watch YouTube, read a book, or eat a meal while the car does all of the driving.

Pricey and Limited

This doesn't mean that you can take an extended nap. Traffic Jam Pilot may request the driver to take back control of the vehicle. The requests come in the form of buzzing the seat belts, as well as haptic, audible, and visual alerts. Lights at the top of the steering wheel, glovebox, and navigation screen blink orange when the vehicle requests the driver take control. If that doesn't happen promptly, the Legend will pull over to the side of the road with the horn engaged and the hazard lights activated. This feature is called Emergency Stop Assist.

For the time being, the Legend with the Level 3 autonomous system is only available for consumers to lease in Japan. It may be a Honda, but the vehicle is priced approximately at $102,000 with current exchange rates. It's important to keep in mind that this is a limited-production vehicle with only 100 units set to be built. So, if anything, this is Honda's experiment on if it can actually make a production vehicle with a Level 3 system

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