Honda launches Honda SENSING Elite safety system with Level 3 automated driving in Legend Hybrid in Japan
05 March 2021
Honda Motor has begun leasing of the Honda Legend EX equipped with Honda SENSING Elite in Japan. Honda SENSING Elite is a variation of Honda SENSING, a suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies currently available on Honda vehicles around the world.
One of the “elite” technologies featured is the Traffic Jam Pilot function, an advanced technology qualifying for Level 3 automated driving (conditional automated driving in limited area), for which Honda has received type designation from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). Traffic Jam Pilot technology 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 an expressway.
For vehicle control, the system determines the position of the vehicle and road conditions using data from 3-dimensional high-definition maps and the global navigation satellite system (GNSS), while detecting the vehicle’s surroundings using several external sensors that provide 360-degree input.
At the same time, the system tracks the condition of the driver using a monitoring camera mounted inside the vehicle. Based on this wide range of information, the main electronic control unit (ECU) recognizes current conditions, anticipates future conditions and applies a high-level of control to acceleration, braking and steering inputs to assist the driver and achieve high-quality and smooth driving.
Approximately 10 million patterns of possible real-world situations were simulated during system development, and real-world demonstration tests were conducted on expressways for a total of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (800,000 miles). Moreover, the system incorporates a redundant system design to ensure safety and reliability in the event of a problem with any of the devices.
With exterior styling befitting a flagship sedan, the automated driving sensors are subtly integrated into the body panels, producing a clean design while discreetly highlighting the vehicle’s automated driving capability.
Interior equipment exclusive to this model includes Honda SENSING Elite indicator lights, which feature carefully selected and visible positions, sizes, colors, brightness and other details, as well as a 12.3-inch full-LCD graphic meter. This equipment was adopted to provide an intuitive understanding of system operation status, current driving situation and any requests to transfer control back to the driver.
Key features of Honda SENSING Elite include:
Hands-off functionality. While driving with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) activated, when certain conditions are satisfied on an expressway, the system will assist the driving operations even while the driver has their hands off the steering wheel.
Adaptive in Lane Driving. The system assists with the driving of the vehicle and following of vehicles detected ahead within a recognized lane. The system drives the vehicle along the middle of the detected lane while maintaining the pre-set vehicle speed. When a car is detected in front, the system assists in following while maintaining a proper following distance.
Active Lane Change Assist with Hands-off Function (Driver assessment). When Adaptive in Lane Driving is activated, once the driver confirms it is safe to change lanes and activates the turn signal, the system provides throttle, braking and steering inputs necessary to accomplish the lane change.
Active Lane Change with Hands-off Function (System assessment). When Adaptive in Lane Driving is activated, once the driver switches on the Active Lane Change with Hands-off Function, the system assesses the situation and assists the lane change and/or passing of the other vehicles under certain conditions. When the system detects a car in front being driven at low speed, the system notifies the driver and then assists with the passing of the vehicle and the return to the original lane.
Traffic Jam Pilot. While driving using the Adaptive in Lane Driving, if the vehicle gets caught in traffic congestion, under certain slow speed conditions the system can take control of acceleration, braking and steering while monitoring the vehicle’s surroundings on behalf of the driver. The system drives, stops, and resumes driving within the same lane while maintaining a proper following interval in accordance with the speed of the vehicle detected ahead. While the vehicle is under the control of the system, the driver can watch television/DVD on the navigation screen or operate the navigation system to search for a destination address, which helps mitigate driver fatigue and stress while driving in a traffic jam.
Emergency Stop Assist. If the driver is unresponsive to multiple system requests for a handover (the transfer of control back to the driver), the system assists deceleration and stopping of the vehicle by making lane change(s) to the outermost lane or the shoulder of the road. To be more specific, in cases where the driver does not respond to the system’s handover requests, the Traffic Jam Pilot/Hands-off Function will be disengaged, and the system will further urge the driver to respond to the handover request using visual, auditory and tactile alerts including escalated alarm sounds and vibration on the driver’s seatbelt. If the driver continues to be unresponsive, the system will assist deceleration and stopping of the vehicle while alerting other vehicles around using hazard lights and the horn. When there is a road shoulder, the system assists deceleration and lane changes until the vehicle reaches the shoulder of the road for a safe stop.
Human-Machine Interface (HMI). The interface enables the driver to instantaneously recognize the operating status of the system, the driving situation and any handover requests issued by the system. Honda SENSING Elite indicator lights are positioned on the steering wheel, the top part of the navigation screen and glovebox. When the Hands-off Function is activated, the indicator light on the steering wheel illuminates, and when Traffic Jam Pilot is activated other indicator lights also come on with a blue light. When the system requests a handover to the driver, all indicator lights change their color to orange and blink to send an easy-to-understand message to the driver. The large 12.3-inch, full-LCD meter also displays the operating status of the system, driving situation and the handover requests in a simple yet expressive manner.