Honda said on Wednesday that it will be the first car manufacturer in the world to mass-produce autonomous Class III cars; Equipped with sensors that allow drivers to allow their cars to navigate busy highways.
Honda said in a press release: We are planning to launch sales of the Honda (Legend) luxury sedan equipped with newly approved autopilot equipment before the end of the current fiscal year, which ends on March 31, 2021.
The race to build autonomous cars is a major technology battleground for carmakers, as tech companies such as Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, are investing billions of dollars in an area expected to boost car sales.
Earlier in the day, the Japanese government awarded a safety certification for Honda’s autonomous driving technology called Traffic Jam Pilot, which legally allows drivers to take their eyes off the road.
Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) said: Autonomous vehicles are expected to play a large role in helping to reduce traffic accidents, provide transportation for the elderly, and improve logistics services.
This approval allows the automated driving system to drive the vehicle instead of the driver under certain conditions, such as when the vehicle is in busy highway traffic.
There are six levels of autonomy, from 0 to 5, ranging from cars with manual or simple functions, such as cruise control, to fully autonomous vehicles that do not require steering wheels or brake pedals.
Level 2 cars, currently located across public roads, can control their speed and steer, but they must have an attentive driver capable of control at all times.
The system in a Level 3 autonomous vehicle monitors the driving environment around the vehicle, and takes over driving operations under certain conditions. When any of the operable driving environment conditions become unsatisfactory, the system will issue a warning, and the driver must take over the drive immediately.
“Honda will remain dedicated to continuing to develop safety technologies, while striving to serve people around the world through freedom of movement, providing people with peace of mind,” the company said.
The US electric car manufacturer Tesla said in July: It is very close to achieving the fifth level of autonomous driving.