Honda started sales of the world's first Level 3 self-driving vehicle in Japan in the spring, but don't look for the system to arrive in the U.S. in the near future.
The infrastructure here is not compatible with the Honda Sensing Elite system that enables hands-free driving in the 2021 Honda Legend sedan, Jay Joseph, Honda vice president of marketing and customer experience, said in a presentation at the Management Briefing Seminars. But also, the patchwork regulatory situation in individual states, insurance company policies and other issues are holding back deployment of the technology.
"This is the recipe we followed [in Japan], and it may be a good guide on how to pave the way in other markets as well," he said. "We worked with regulators and law enforcement to update regulations to allow L3 operation. We engaged our dealers to ensure appropriate customer education when deciding if the technology was relevant for those customers. We, as Honda, spoke directly with customers and the public to set clear expectations on how our system works and how it interacts with nonautomated-driving vehicles on the roadways. This recipe may not be right for every market, but it does show one pathway to success."
The Honda Sensing Elite system can take over full driving in severe traffic congestion, providing smoother stop-and-go transitions that can reduce carbon dioxide emissions as well as enhance safety. It can also drive the car on highways, executing passing maneuvers and automatically keeping the car safe from obstacles.
The road to Honda's Japanese market self-driving breakthrough started almost a decade ago when Japan began upgrading its infrastructure so that self-driving vehicles could communicate with the environment.
Closer to home, Honda and Verizon are testing in-vehicle 5G ultra-wideband and mobile edge computing technology to determine whether vehicles with some self-driving capabilities can move large amounts of data between the car, the road, pedestrians and other vehicles.
Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio, where Honda has a plant, are also testing automated driving technologies. The city has installed cameras at intersections that transmit traffic data to specially equipped Honda vehicles. The vehicle warns the driver audibly and visually of potential danger.