In an unexpected move, Honda Motor Co. announced this week its plans to mass-produce a Level 3 self-driving car. And they plan to begin selling it in March.
Honda’s system, known as “Traffic Jam Pilot”, was officially approved and awarded a safety certification by the Japanese government on Wednesday. With the new system, drivers will be legally allowed to take their eyes off the road with the system engaged.
The self-driving software won’t be able to used on all roads and in all traffic conditions. The system will only take over in certain situations, like while driving “in congested traffic on [highways],” the company said in a statement.
The Japanese automaker said it will include the software in a version of its Honda Legend luxury sedan, which it plans to begin selling before the end of March 2021.
Based on SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standards, a Level 3 self-driving car is one that can take over all driving functions under certain circumstances. When engaged, all major driving functions like braking, steering, and accelerating are automated and require no attention from the driver.
If the system determines intervention is required, a notification would allow the driver to take control within a certain amount of time specified by the manufacturer.
Interestingly, Traffic Jam Pilot is the same name Audi gave its Level 3 self-driving software that is available with the Audi A8.