The company promises the tech will be on the road early next year.
Autonomous driving technology has proven to be a lot more difficult to bring to market than any of the major automakers seemed to have planned for. Mercedes-Benz is no longer pursuing the tech, a self-driving car recently crashed on a racetrack, and the industry, in general, has been plagued by numerous litigation issues. Despite this, Honda has just claimed that it will launch the world's first Level 3 autonomous production car in March 2021. The tech will debut in Japan's version of the Acura RLX, called the Honda Legend. Could this be a turning point for automakers, or will more delays come to light?
Japan's government has awarded a safety certification to Honda's autonomy tech called Traffic Jam Pilot. "Self-driving cars are expected to play a big role in helping reduce traffic accidents, provide transportation for the elderly and improve logistics," said Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.
This certification means that you can legally sit behind the wheel without actually looking at the road. Under certain conditions, Level 3 autonomy allows a car to drive itself as long as the human behind the wheel is able to take control at any time. So no naps while driving just yet. That sort of tech will be assigned to levels 4 and 5 of the autonomous driving scale.
It's difficult to ascertain what the future holds, but the fact that the tech is being debuted in Japan first is telling. Naturally, it's not a surprise since Honda is based in the Asian country, but it also makes us wonder if there's a bigger issue, namely legal regulations. The United States has vastly different rules to Japan, and those rules are different to what lawmakers have imposed in Europe too. Still, if it can be proven to work in Japan, it can eventually be made to work anywhere in the world. Thinking about the traffic of big cities like New York, LA, and Chicago, autonomous driving could reduce the stress of drivers hugely.