Honda Legend becomes first certified level 3 autonomous car

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TOKYO – Honda unveiled a partially self-driving Legend sedan in Japan on Thursday, making it the first automaker in the world to sell a vehicle equipped with new certified Level 3 automation technology.

The launch gives Japan’s No. 2 carmaker bragging rights as first in the market, but lease sales of the flagship Legend level 3 would be limited to a batch of 100 in Japan, at a retail price of 11 million yen ($ 102,000).

Still, the new automation technology is a big step toward eliminating human error-caused accidents, chief engineer Yoichi Sugimoto told reporters.

The Legend’s “Traffic Jam Pilot” system can control acceleration, braking and steering under certain conditions.

Once the system is activated, a driver can also watch movies or use the on-screen navigation, reducing fatigue and stress when driving in a traffic jam, Honda said in a statement.

It can alert the driver to react when transferring the control, such as vibrations to the driver’s seat belt, the automaker said. And if the driver does not respond, the system assists in an emergency braking by slowing and stopping the vehicle, while warning surrounding cars with hazard lights and the horn.

The announcement comes after the Japanese government awarded a safety certificate to Honda’s “Traffic Jam Pilot” in November.

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Global automakers and technology companies, including Waymo and Tesla Inc of Google parent company Alphabet Inc, have invested heavily in autonomous driving.

But even as technology advances, autonomous driving regulations differ from country to country. Audi unveiled an A8 sedan with Level 3 technology in 2017, but regulatory hurdles prevented it from being widely introduced.

Honda has no plans to increase production or sales of a level 3-equipped Legend for now, the company manager said Thursday.

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