Honda offers 'level 3' self-driving Legend
TOKYO: Honda Motor Co will start offering from Friday the revamped Legend sedan in Japan equipped with "level-3" autonomous technology as the auto industry faces intensifying competition to develop driverless vehicles and a collision-free society.
"It is the world's first vehicle to hit the market that allows the driver to engage in different tasks such as reading and watching TV when the car is in certain conditions such as congested traffic on expressways,'' the Japanese Transport Ministry said.
But in the case of an emergency the driver needs to take full control of the vehicle.
"Autonomous technology has the potential to reduce the driver's burden while eliminating human errors that cause traffic accidents," Yoichi Sugimoto, executive chief engineer of Honda R&D Co, said in an online press conference.
Honda plans to offer 100 units domestically for a suggested retail price of 11 million yen ($103,000) that will only be available on a three-year lease. This includes a maintenance service package, as the vehicle needs special technicians certified by the government to deal with its self-driving technology.
To develop what it calls "Honda Sensing Elite" level-3 autonomous driving technology, Honda conducted a total of about 10 million-pattern simulations of possible real-world situations and tested the vehicle on expressways, racking up a total of 1.3 million kilometres.
Honda Legend's Traffic Jam Pilot, one of the key functions of its level-3 self-driving technology, is programmed to take control of acceleration, braking and steering when the vehicle is in congested traffic and travelling at a speed of 30 kilometres per hour or slower, allowing the driver to do other activities.
"When the speed exceeds 50 kph, the system urges the driver to take full control of the car,'' Honda said.
Among Japanese automakers, Nissan Motor Co and Subaru Corp have developed level-2 assistant technologies that allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel in a designated single lane, but they are required to take full control of their car at all other times.