Elon Musk won’t be happy about this.

Honda’s Sensing safety suite already includes a plethora of advanced driver assists available for models such as the Civic, including automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and traffic sign recognition. Now, Honda has launched an even more advanced safety suite known as Honda Sensing Elite. Currently, these driver assists are only available in Japan for the Honda Legend Hybrid EX, which is Japan’s version of the Acura RLX, but they likely preview safety technology that will be available in future US models.

One of the highlights of Honda Sensing Elite is a new Traffic Jam Pilot function with hands-free Level 3 autonomous driving technology that can take control of the car in certain conditions such as driving through heavy traffic on a highway.



Honda’s Sensing Elite also includes capabilities like hands-off active lane-change assist, lane-keeping assist, and an emergency stop assist feature that will slow down the vehicle if the driver becomes unresponsive to requests to take control. Blue accessory lights are fitted to the exterior to distinguish the Legend with Level 3 autonomy. The driver is still required to be behind the wheel to intervene if required, but this is a huge step forward for self-driving tech in production cars after companies like Mercedes decided it would no longer chase Level 5 autonomy.

Tesla’s Full Self Driving system is also still in beta and has some kinks that need ironing out, so it’s not very reliable. Cadillac’s Super Cruise assist allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel and is one of the most advanced semi-autonomous systems on the market, but it’s classed as a Level 2 system.

Using data from maps and a global navigation satellite system, Honda’s Traffic Jam Pilot can detect the car’s position and road conditions, while external sensors monitor the car’s surroundings. Combined with a camera inside the car that monitors the driver, the system can make accurate decisions and apply the right level of acceleration, braking, and steering inputs accordingly.

To reduce the risk of the automated driving system causing accidents, Honda simulated around 10 million patterns of real-world scenarios and evaluated the technology in test cars for 800,000 miles on the highway. This is the first time Level 3 autonomous technology has been approved by Japanese authorities, but it will likely be a long time before the technology is added to Honda cars in the US until legislation approves it.