Published on March 6th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair0
Honda Legend Delivers Level 3 Automated Driving
100 units of the Honda Legend in Japan will come with SENSING Elite, which promises Level 3 “Hands Off’ Autonomous driving capability!
You might think that Tesla’s so-called “Autopilot” feature is the real deal, but even halfway through 2020, it was only categorised as Level 2 – which means the car can control both steering and braking/accelerating simultaneously. The human driver must pay full attention at all times and perform the other driving tasks. Level 3 is where the car can perform all driving tasks in certain circumstances, but the human driver must be ready to take over when necessary.
Now, we finally have an OFFICIAL Level 3 Self Driving car and it’s from Honda! 100 units of the current generation Honda Legend in the Japanese Domestic market will be receiving SENSING Elite, which promises the most advanced self-driving capabilities in the market. These vehicles will only be available for lease, not sale.
The feature in question that is classified as Level 3 automated driving is “Traffic Jam Pilot”. Traffic Jam Pilot allows the vehicle to drive itself on a congested expressway. It uses 3D HD maps and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) as well as a number of sensors to determine conditions. There’s also a camera mounted within the vehicle to monitor the driver’s condition. The system drives, stops, resumes driving within the same lane while maintaining a proper following distance in accordance with the speed of the vehicle in front. While the vehicle is under the control of the system, the driver can do whatever he wants, including watch TV in the car while the car drives through traffic.
Other functions allow the car to carry out lane changes when safe without human steering and pedal operation on the expressway under certain conditions. The system can detect when a car in front is driving slower. It will notify the driver and then assist with overtaking and returning to the original lane.
Here’s the press release with more information on the Japan-only, world debut of Level 3 Autonomous Driving in a production vehicle.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. will begin lease sales in Japan, on March 5, 2021, of the all-new Legend equipped with Honda SENSING Elite.
Striving to realize a collision-free society based on its global safety slogan, “Safety for Everyone,” Honda has long been at the forefront globally in researching and developing safety technologies. With a vision to encourage people to explore their curiosity and to realize a joyous future where everyone can go anywhere freely with total peace of mind, Honda is introducing this Legend model equipped with the Honda SENSING Elite which represents the new step forward in the area of advanced safety technology.
Honda SENSING Elite is a variation of Honda SENSING, a suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies currently available for Honda vehicles around the world. The name “Elite” represents the outstanding and “elite” technologies included in this latest variation.
One of the “elite” technologies is the “Traffic Jam Pilot” function, an advanced technology qualifying for Level 3 automated driving (conditional automated driving in limited area), for which Honda has received type designation from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT)*1. Traffic Jam Pilot technology enables the automated driving system to drive the vehicle under certain conditions, instead of the driver, such as when the vehicle is in congested traffic on an expressway*2. For vehicle control, the system determines the position of the vehicle and road conditions using data from the 3-dimensional high-definition maps and the global navigation satellite system (GNSS*3) and detects the vehicle’s 360-degree surroundings using a number of external sensors. At the same time, the system tracks the conditions of the driver using the monitoring camera mounted inside the vehicle. Based on such a wide range of information, the main ECU makes proper recognitions, predictions and decisions and applies a high-level control of acceleration, braking and steering to assist the driver to achieve high-quality and smooth driving.
Placing the highest priority on safety and reliability, the system development employed simulations where a total of approximately 10 million pattens of possible real-world situations were simulated, and a number of demonstration tests were conducted while driving test vehicles on expressways for a total of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (800,000 miles). Moreover, the system incorporates redundant system design paying due consideration to safety and reliability in case some kind of problem occurs to any of the devices.
Exterior equipment designed exclusively for this all-new Legend model includes blue accessory lights and a dedicated aluminum wheel. A number of sensors are embedded to make them less noticeable so that dignity and a stately appearance befitting a flagship sedan are further enhanced while discreetly calling out the fact that it is a vehicle equipped with automated driving equipment.
Interior equipment exclusive to this model includes Honda SENSING Elite indicator lights which feature carefully selected respective positions, sizes, colors, brightness and other details, as well as the 12.3-inch full-LCD graphic meter. This equipment was adopted with due consideration to enabling the driver to intuitively understand the operating status of the system, driving situation and requests for the transfer of control back to the driver issued by the system.
＜Key features of Honda Legend SENSING Elite＞
While driving with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) activated, when certain conditions are satisfied on an expressway, the system will assist the driving operations even while the driver has his/her hands off the steering wheel.
- Adaptive in Lane Driving:
The system assists the driving and in following a car in front within a lane. The system drives the vehicle along the middle of the lane while maintaining the pre-set vehicle speed. When there is a car in front, the system assists in following while maintaining a proper following distance.
- Active Lane Change Assist with Hands-off Function:
While driving using the Adaptive in Lane Driving, when the driver confirms safe surroundings and puts on the turn signal, the system assists acceleration/deceleration and steering for the lane change.
- Active Lane Change with Hands-off Function:
While driving using the Adaptive in Lane Driving, when the driver switches on the Active Lane Change with Hands-off Function, the system assesses the situation and assists the lane change and/or passing of the other vehicle under certain conditions. When the system detects a car in front being driven at low speed, the system notifies the driver and then assists the passing and returning to the original lane.
●Traffic Jam Pilot
While driving using the Adaptive in Lane Driving, when the vehicle gets caught in traffic congestion under certain conditions, the system takes control of acceleration, braking and steering while monitoring the vehicle’s surroundings on behalf of the driver. The system drives, stops, resumes driving within the same lane while maintaining a proper following distance in accordance with the speed of the vehicle in front. While the vehicle is under the control of the system, the driver can watch television/DVD on the navigation screen or operate the navigation system to search for a destination address, which helps mitigate driver fatigue and stress while driving in a traffic jam.
●Emergency Stop Assist
When the driver continues to be unresponsive to the system’s requests for a handover (the transfer of control back to the driver), the system assists deceleration and stopping of the vehicle by making lane change(s) to the outermost lane or the shoulder of the road. To be more specific, in case the driver does not respond to the system’s handover requests as the Traffic Jam Pilot/Hands-off Function will be disengaged, the system further urges the driver to respond to the handover request using visual, auditory and tactile alerts including escalated alarm sounds and vibration on the driver’s seatbelt. If the driver continues to be unresponsive, the system will assist deceleration and stopping of the vehicle while alerting other vehicles around using hazard lights and the horn. When there is a road shoulder, the system assists deceleration and lane changes until the vehicle reaches the shoulder of the road for a safe stop.*4
●Human-Machine Interface (HMI)
The interface enables the driver to instantaneously recognize operating status of the system, the driving situation and the handover requests issued by the system. Honda SENSING Elite indicator lights are positioned on the steering wheel, the top part of the navigation screen and glovebox. When the Hands-off Function is activated, the indicator light on the steering wheel comes on, and when Traffic Jam Pilot is activated other indicator lights also come on with a blue light. When the system requests the handover, all indicator lights change their color to orange and blink to send an easy-to-understand message to the driver. The large 12.3-inch, full-LCD meter also displays the operating status of the system, driving situation and the handover requests in a simple yet expressive manner.
＜Manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the Legend Hybrid EX・Honda SENSING Elite＞
●Sales plan (in Japan): ＜Limited production＞100 units
- This model is available only for lease sales.
- Price shown in the chart is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (including 10% consumption tax) provided for the purpose of reference. The sales price is set independently by each dealer.
- Based on the automobile recycling law, a separate recycling charge will be necessary. The recycling charge includes recycling deposit (cost necessary to recycle shredder dust, air bags, chlorofluorocarbon (CFCs) and information management cost) and fund management cost.
This product is available only for lease sales*5. The lease sales and after-sale services will be offered by select Honda dealers*6.
Exterior: 6 colors
- Majestic Black Pearl *
- Platinum White Pearl *
- Super Platinum Metallic *
- Premium Deep Rosso Pearl *
- Modern Steel Metallic
- Obsidian Blue Pearl
* There is an additional charge of 55,000 yen (50,000 yen excluding 10% consumption tax) for these colors
Interior: 3 colors
- Premium Black
- Deep Brown
- Sea Coast Ivory