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Honda to Mass-Produce Level 3 Autonomous Cars by March


2020 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid (Image: Honda)

Honda is ready to mass-produce autonomous cars that can operate at what’s known as Level 3.

As Reuters reports, Honda plans to start selling a self-driving Honda Legend sedan in March 2021. It will reportedly offer Level 3 autonomy, which means it will require a driver behind the wheel to take control at any time, but can operate without their intervention.

Level 4 means a car can perform all duties without human assistance, though a driver may have to take over occasionally. At Level 5, humans can take over but are not required.

graphic that details what each automation level means

(Image: NHTSA)

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has certified Honda’s Traffic Jam Pilot technology as safe for use on public roads, Reuters says, meaning drivers can legally take their eyes off the road. The agency refreshed its rules earlier this year to allow for Level 3 autonomy, Slashgear reports, with limits: Automakers have to be individually approved and they must label each car with an “Automated Drive” sticker on the back. 

As such, the Level 3 Legend is only planned for a Japan release. (The Honda Legend sold in Japan is similar to Honda’s Acura RLX sold in the US.)

Honda has been testing autonomous vehicles for years, as have rivals like Toyota, Google, and Tesla. Pro Pilot Assist is Honda’s previous autonomous offering, but it was a Level 2 on the vehicle automation scale. Honda is aiming for Level 4 automation by 2025.

In 2017, Audi announced plans to produce its 2018 Audi A8 with Level 3 autonomy, but ran into regulatory obstacles worldwide and had to abandon that plan.

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