Honda begin selling first Level 3 Autonomous cars

just became the first automaker granted approval by Japanese authorities to sell Level 3 .

Honda says it’s just about ready to bring to market the world’s first mass-production vehicle with Level 3 autonomous driving capabilities, designed to let its drivers take their eyes off the road and let the car take over in traffic jams.

“Honda is planning to launch sales of a Honda Legend (luxury sedan) equipped with the newly approved automated driving equipment,” the automaker said in a statement, announcing the feature will show up on the car before March 2021.

The Japanese market will be the first to see this semi-self-driving Legend on its streets; Honda doesn’t market the Legend in North America, and our equivalent is the Acura RLX, which won’t see the tech any time soon. In Canada, the offerings in our dealerships top out at Level 2 autonomy (the scale goes up to Level 5, which’d be a car without a steering wheel).

The Legend was specifically awarded a safety certification by the Japanese government that will allow its drivers to take their eyes off the road while using the Honda’s autonomous “Traffic Jam Pilot” feature, although they must still be able to take control of the vehicle at any time.

“Self-driving cars are expected to play a big role in helping reduce traffic accidents, provide transportation for the elderly and improve logistics,” said Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

There might be some controversy in Honda calling the Legend the “first” vehicle with Level 3 autonomy — Tesla has for quite a while been making vehicles with semi-autonomous driving functions it claims are about at that mark. But as mentioned above, the definition of Level 3 autonomy involves drivers being able to take their eyes off the road while the car drives — something most of us wouldn’t dare do in a Tesla, and aren’t legally cleared to anyway.

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