Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has received the required type designation for Level 3 automated driving from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). This approval enables the automated driving system to drive the vehicle instead of the driver under certain conditions, such as when the vehicle is in congested traffic on expressway.
Honda is planning to launch sales of a Honda Legend equipped with the newly approved automated driving equipment (“Traffic Jam Pilot”) before the end of the current fiscal year (ending 31 March 2021).
To promote commercialization of Level 3 automated vehicles, the MLIT partially amended the Road Vehicle Act, and the revised act (Act No. 14 of 2019) took effect 1 April 2020. By this amendment, equipment for Level 3 automated driving was newly added to the list of motor vehicle equipment subject to the safety standards (defined in the Ministry of Transport Ordinance No.67, 1951).
Key safety standards for automated driving equipment:
Performance: The equipment must not cause any concern that compromises the safety of vehicle occupants or other road users under the operable driving environment conditions. The equipment must not operate unless all required operable driving environment conditions are fulfilled.
Before any of operable driving environment conditions become unsatisfactory, the equipment must warn the driver of the transfer of control (handover) back to the driver and must continue safe driving until the handover is completed. When the handover cannot be made, the equipment must safely stop the vehicle.
The equipment must include a driver monitoring function to monitor the condition of the driver. The equipment must adopt cyber security measures to prevent security threats such as unauthorized access.
Operating condition recording device: The recording device must record data to confirm operating conditions of the automated driving equipment for a 6-month period (or 2,500 times) including the following:
- Time when the automated driving equipment was turned on/off
- Time when the equipment issued a handover warning
- Time when the driver fell into a situation where a handover is not possible
External display: A sticker indicating it is an automated vehicle should be affixed on the backside of the vehicle body. (A request to automakers.)
At Level 3 of automation, the system monitors the driving environment surrounding the vehicle and takes over driving operations under certain conditions. When any of operable driving environment conditions become unsatisfactory, the system will issue a warning, and the driver must take over the driving immediately.
Conditions under which automated driving equipment is operable, which are determined based on various factors such as location (i.e. expressways), weather (i.e. clear day) and vehicle speeds, etc. Conditions vary depending on the performance of the system.