Industry experts are cautiously watching to see if the Legend, a luxury sedan that operates without driver supervision under certain conditions but requires the driver to assume control of the vehicle within seconds when alerted, can capture enough demand to suggest a way forward for other manufacturers.
The new model's Traffic Jam Pilot system was approved by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in November. It can free drivers from driving in congested traffic on an expressway when traveling slower than 50 kilometres per hour.
The system automatically accelerates, brakes and steers while monitoring the vehicle's surroundings, using data from high definition mapping and external sensors. The driver, meanwhile, can enjoy the vehicle's infotainment using the navigation screen but must respond to the system's request for a handover when the vehicle speeds up after the traffic jam eases.
The report says Honda is proceeding cautiously, only producing 100 units that will be available only for lease sales. The vehicle will also carry a steep price of $102,000.