Japanese-market flagship sedan could drive itself on motorways by April 2021, according to Honda.
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Honda has announced it has received certification from the Japanese government to offer Level Three autonomous driving technology on its domestic market vehicles.

Honda says its Level Three system, dubbed 'Traffic Jam Pilot', will launch first on the brand's flagship Legend sedan, with a Japanese showroom debut confirmed for before the end of March, 2021.

Like other Level Three autonomous systems, Traffic Jam Pilot enables the vehicle to take full control of driving – including steering, braking and accelerating – in "certain conditions", such as in a traffic jam on a motorway (as its name suggests).

Drivers are allowed to take their eyes off the road, but are required to be present and alert to retake control of the car when "driving environment conditions become unsatisfactory".

An array of technology and safety features have been added to facilitate the system, including driver attention monitoring, "cyber security measures" to prevent hacks or "security threats", and an 'Automated Drive' sticker on the back of the vehicle.

Level Three-equipped Legends will also feature a recording device which will save a number of parameters associated with the system for a six month period.

These include when the autonomous system was switched on or off, when the driver was asked to take over control, and when the vehicle was forced to pull over to the side of the road as the "driver fell into a situation where a handover [was] not possible", such as becoming incapacitated or falling asleep.

Alongside Honda, similar Level Three autonomous systems are being introduced elsewhere by other carmakers.

Mercedes-Benz's new-generation S-Class will be able to drive itself on specific sections of German motorways at speeds of up to 60km/h from the second half of 2021, while the recently-revealed BMW iX electric SUV will offer a similar Level Three system following its launch in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The Level Three-equipped Honda Legend will launch in Japan before the end of March, 2021. Given the Legend isn't offered locally, and Level Three systems have yet to be legalised Down Under, it could be a while before Australian buyers get their hands on this autonomous technology.