Honda’s flagship vehicle, the Legend, has become the first production vehicle to come equipped with a level 3 autonomous system. The vehicle which was launched on Thursday, March 4, is available for lease in Japan in a limited quantity of 100 units.
What is an Autonomous Car?
An autonomous car is one which is capable of sensing its environment and operating without human involvement. In a fully autonomous vehicle, a human passenger is not required to take control of the vehicle at any time, nor is a human passenger required to be present in the vehicle at all times.
What is a Level 3 Autonomous Car?
Autonomous cars are categorised into stages ranging from Level 1 to Level 5, which is full automation. At Level 3, the vehicle is capable of detecting changes in the environment and can perform majority of driving tasks including acceleration, braking and steering. This puts the car in the basic category of a self-driving vehicle which still requires override and assistance from an human passenger.
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In 2018, Audi announced bullish plans to produce the first Level 3 system in their flagship sedan, the A8, but they conceded defeat and gave up the project in April 2020.
The Honda Legend, like any Level 3 car should, is equipped with an advanced technology feature called ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’, which when activated, monitors traffic conditions on the highway and takes control of the car from the driver if it determines that it is safe to do so. It enables the car to follow the vehicle in front and stay in its lane without any input from the driver.
Honda said in a statement that this feature will allow drivers to watch movies or use the navigation on the screen so as to abate any adversities of fatigue or stress that comes with driving in a traffic jam.
To hand over the vehicle back the drive, the technology is capable of alerting the driver with several notification methods such as vibration of the seatbelt. But in cases where the driver remains unresponsive, the vehicle will gradually decelerate to a standstill and warn surrounding vehicles with horning and hazard lights.
The Legend is also fitted with Honda’s Sensing Elite system which has adaptive cruise control along with lane centering. This technology adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead using either a radar sensor, laser sensor or a camera setup to detect other cars. It is best suited for highway.
The lane centering uses similar technology to detect cars and initiate lane changes on its own, if activated by the driver. Different-colored indicator lights, including on the steering wheel, show the driver which level of the system is engaged.
The vehicle is limited to Japan, who awarded their compatriots a safety certification for the ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’ technology in November, when Honda announced their release date.
The Honda Legend is available in the Hybrid EX trim for 11 million yen (33.5 million naira).
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