Honda wins approval to sell Level 3 self-driving cars

The Japanese government has granted the giant Honda car maker the approval to sell self-driving cars of the third level in Japan, which is the first step of its kind in the world.

Honda said it plans to introduce these self-driving cars only during traffic jams on highways before next March.

Self-driving cars are classified on a scale from zero to five, and the fifth level indicates the car's complete independence in driving control.

Honda pointed out in a statement that the "type classification" approved by the Japanese government on Wednesday "enables the automatic driving system to take over the driving of the car without interference from the driver under certain conditions, such as the car being stuck in a traffic jam on a highway."

"Honda plans to launch the sale of Honda to Gend, which is equipped with the newly approved autonomous driving equipment (automatic driving during congestion), before the end of the current fiscal year," she added.

A Honda spokesman told France Presse that "it is the first time in the world that a car manufacturer has obtained a Type III classification" for self-driving.

He added that the company could now become the first in the world to produce commercial quantities of self-driving cars of the third level, although other companies are racing to offer cars of this type.

Many car makers have previously produced this type, but few countries have legal frameworks to allow their sale and use.

Japan has introduced amendments to the Transportation Vehicles Law to allow the sale of third-level cars, and the Ministry of Transport and Tourism said in a statement, "Self-driving cars are expected to play a major role in solving several social issues facing our country, such as reducing traffic accidents and securing the transportation of the elderly," and others.

And it indicated that it granted its approval "for the first time in the world" after ensuring that the system complies with national traffic safety laws.

The system is designed in a way that gives the vehicle an alert when autonomous driving conditions are unsuitable for the driver to take over.

Automakers and technology companies are fighting fierce battles for leadership in autonomous technology, and electric car maker Tesla is among those competitors.

Tesla chief Elon Musk raised eyebrows earlier this year when he announced that he was "extremely confident" that the fifth level of self-driving cars would become a reality "very quickly."

He claimed that the "basic functions" of the car's complete autonomy would be "ready this year."

But many analysts consider this to be an exaggeration, and that car makers are still far from the fourth level, in which a car is considered driverless and everyone inside is classified as passengers.

In theory, Level 5 cars will not have a steering wheel or other controls for the driver, and will be able to handle all kinds of roads and weather conditions without assistance.

 

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