Virtually every semi-autonomous car you’ve seen on the road, even Teslas with Autopilot, uses level 2 self-driving — they may save you from steering or hitting the accelerator, but they won’t make many decisions by themselves. Honda believes it will push those boundaries, however. According to Reuters, the transportation giant claims it will be the first to mass produce cars with level 3 self-driving. While you’ll still have to be ready to take over, the cars could make important decisions like overtaking slow cars.
Honda’s first level 3 vehicle will be a version of its Legend sedan (pictured above) equipped with a Traffic Jam Pilot feature. It should arrive before the end of the company’s fiscal year, or no later than March 2021.
The feat is possible after the Japanese government gave Traffic Jam Pilot a safety certification, letting drivers look away from the road. Honda had to meet multiple standards, including promises of six months of automated driving data recording and an “automated drive” sticker.
This isn’t the first production-level car to offer claims of level 3 driving. Audi boasted that its 2019 A8L would support that level of autonomy. However, Audi had to shelve those plans after the US shifted from federal-level guidance to state-by-state rules. Honda’s approach may be the first to reach streets on a broad level. That’s a significant achievement, even if it’s a far cry from the truly hands-off driving of level 4 and 5 systems.