Recently, there has been a huge push towards autonomous driving technology. The days when autonomous vehicles are the predominant type on the road are not very very far away. While Tesla is still yet to come to terms with its 'Full Self-Driving' feature, Honda's Sensing Elite system previews what motoring in the future could look like. Earlier this month, Honda debuted Level 3 autonomous driving technology on the Japan-only Legend Hybrid EX, making them the first manufacturer in the world to debut a series production Level 3 self-driving vehicle.
The Honda Legend Hybrid EX is just limited to 100 units, and as such, its approach and scope will be limited. However, it does provide an insight of how autonomous tech could be working in the future while also showcasing the strides being made in this field. Among several autonomous driving assistance features, the Legend Hybrid EX comes with active lane change with hands-off function and Traffic Jam Pilot, both of which has been demonstrated in this video. In fact, the hands-off function is a key feature of the Sensing Elite. It will assist in steering the vehicle without any driver inputs when adaptive cruise control (ACC) and lane keeping assist system (LKAS) is activated.
The hands-off function is supported by the adaptive in-lane driving which maintains position within a lane at a preset speed. When the system detects a vehicle in front, it will keep to the middle of its current lane while also maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front. The next step is when the active lane-change function kicks in, still with the hands-off function on. As the car comes up to a slower vehicle in front of it, the system will check the surroundings, and if its safe to do so, it will apply the turn signal and automatically change the lane to execute the overtake.
After crossing the vehicle in front, the system will once again check its surroundings and makes another lane change back to the non-passing lane. As for the Traffic Jam Pilot feature, it comes into action when the vehicle is caught in traffic congestion while being driven in hands-off drive mode. When under 30 kph, the system automatically activates to control acceleration, braking and steering the vehicle along in stop-start traffic situation within the same lane, while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.
For as long as the Traffic Jam Pilot feature is engaged, the driver can even leisurely watch a video on the infotainment screen. Once the congestion has cleared and the road opens up, the system will demand that the driver takes over the driving. The system will then acknowledge the input before going back to ACC/LKAS mode. After a while, when it is safe to do so, hands-off drive mode kicks in again. It can be said that this demonstration was conducted in a controlled environment. In a more real-world situation, the system could be left completely confused, much like we recently saw with Tesla's 'Full Self-Driving' feature. But that's something we will only find out in time.