Honda announced it will be producing a car with Level 3 self-driving technology this coming summer. This allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. According to Nikkei Asian Review, this the first time Honda has equipped one of its vehicles with this level of self-driving technology.
- Honda will debut a vehicle with Level 3 self-driving technology next summer.
- This technology will appear only in Japan on the Honda Legend.
- It’s the first time Honda has equipped a vehicle with this level of self-driving technology.
The vehicle to receive this upgrade will be the Honda Legend, which is the brand’s flagship luxury model. It’s not available in the United States, but it will be available in Japan for roughly $91,000. That’s about 40 percent more than what the traditional Legend costs, making this an expensive purchase.
Taking your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel is okay with Level 3 self-driving technology. (Photo: Getty Images)
Look Ma, no hands
The Level 3 technology in the Legend will allow the car to drive itself without driver intervention for extended periods, but will warn the driver to take over when necessary. That shouldn’t happen in normal conditions leaving the driver free to use their smartphone, watch television, read, and do things that are usually impossible when driving.
Part of what allows Honda to deploy this technology in Japan is the country’s legislation. It will permit Level 3 self-driving vehicles on the road starting this spring when new laws go into effect. Japan wants to commercialize this technology next year.
The challenge for Honda will be convincing consumers to accept the extra cost of self-driving technology. The number of sensors required to make these cars possible is expensive and consumers, especially early adopters, will have to pay a premium for the privilege of driving one.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Self-driving technology is evolving at a rapid pace. Getting it into consumer hands requires legislative approval, which Japan has, but it’s still costly. Until costs come down, it’s unlikely sales will happen in high volumes, but at least it’s a start.