Honda unveils world’s first Level 3 autonomous vehicle

Updated Mar 12, 2021 | Same topic: Leading-Edge Tech Trends

We’re getting closer to achieving completely self-driving cars.

Even as automakers work on making cars more enjoyable to drive, they’re also working on how to reduce human input on next-generation models. Honda may just take humanity a step closer towards completely autonomous driving.  

Honda Sensing Elite

The Honda Sensing Elite system makes its public debut in Japan

The carmaker has launched its Honda Sensing Elite system, the first in the world to feature Level 3 autonomous driving technology that allows for most independent driving tasks while still requiring human override.

This safety package has been cleared for use in production cars by Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), and is rolling out on the Honda Legend Hybrid EX currently offered for lease in the country.

According to Honda, the new technology builds on the standard Honda Sensing suite of driver-assist features that enhance vehicle safety. Showcased on the Honda Sensing Elite is a ‘Traffic Jam Pilot’ function that can assume control of acceleration, braking, and steering.

Honda Legend steering wheel

Special auditory and visual alerts will notify the driver of the system's status

Monitoring the vehicle’s immediate environment using data from high-definition 3-D maps, global satellite navigation, and feedback from external sensors, the feature can independently maintain distance from the car in front.

This leaves human operators free for other activities such as watching entertainment or working the navigation system. Honda says this can help minimize stress and fatigue on the driver during instances when traffic is moving at a snail’s pace.

The feature works with Adaptive In-Lane Driving that allows the vehicle to maintain a pre-set speed while following another car along the middle of a lane. Active Lane Change with Hands-Off Function notifies the driver when the car in front is traveling at low speed, assisting with deceleration or acceleration and steering.

>>> Related: Autonomous braking now part of vehicle safety rating in ASEAN

Honda Legend

Initially offered on the Honda Legend, the system showcases Honda's efforts towards road safety

A ‘Hands-Off’ feature also helps with driving operations even when the driver is not touching the steering wheel. When the system’s requests for the driver to take back control of the vehicle (using alerts such as alarm sounds and seatbelt vibration) remain unheeded, it will engage the Emergency Stop Assist feature to slow down and stop the vehicle on the outermost lane or shoulder, while alerting other drivers using the horn and hazard lights.

Meanwhile, an onboard camera monitors the condition of the driver, who will be notified of the system’s status using accessory lights on the steering wheel and dashboard along with a 12.3-inch full LCD meter.

Although Honda has tested the system for 1.3 million kilometers against 10 million possible real-world driving patterns, it reminds users to still observe their surroundings during driving and be fit enough to respond to requests for manual control.

Catch a glimpse of the future of motoring with

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph has been a member of various car clubs since he got his driver's license in 2004 – old enough to remember riding in taxicabs with analog meters, but his fascination with cars goes way back. After nearly two decades of working in broadcast media, he shifted gears by coming on board as Philkotse’s first Filipino member and staff writer in 2017.

Apart from his role in Philkotse as Content Team Lead, Joseph has written episodes for Drive, which has been airing on CNN Philippines for five seasons running. He has also delivered content for various car dealerships based in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, among others.

Keeping his hopes high and his revs low, he dreams about owning a Kei car when he retires. Hates slow parkers.

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