Honda to sell limited batch of Level 3 self-driving cars

TOKYO — Honda said it will sell a limited batch of its flagship Legend sedan equipped with its Sensing Elite Level 3 autonomous driving technology that enables vehicles to navigate congested highways.

When the Level 3 Traffic Jam Pilot is activated in the system, a driver can watch movies or use the navigation on the screen, helping to mitigate fatigue and stress when driving in a traffic jam, Honda said in a statement.

The automaker’s plan to sell 100 of the vehicles with the advanced technology would represent a significant step towards its goal of being the first company to mass produce a car with Level 3 technology.

Traffic Jam Pilot option can control acceleration, braking and steering under certain conditions.

It can also alert the driver to respond when handing over the control, such as vibration on the driver’s seatbelt, Honda said. And if the driver continues to be unresponsive, the system will assist with an emergency stop by decelerating and stopping the vehicle while alerting surrounding cars with hazard lights and the horn, Honda said.

The announcement comes after the Japanese government gave safety certification to Traffic Jam Pilot in November.

Global automakers and tech companies, including Google parent Alphabet’s Waymo and Tesla, have been investing heavily in autonomous driving.

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

The limited-edition Legend will begin lease sales on Friday in Japan at a retail price of 11 million yen ($103,000), Honda said.

The automaker has no plans to increase production or sales of a Level 3-equipped Legend for now, the company told reporters on Thursday.