Japanese car giant Honda has launched a new autonomous vehicle that has been permitted for use on the road.
Just 100 Honda Legend saloon cars will be available initially through a lease sale with a price tag of 11m yen (£73,400).
Honda said the car is capable of both driving in lanes as well as passing others and switching lanes in certain conditions. What’s more is the Japanese government has already approved the vehicle for road use, marking a significant step forward in the advent of self-driving cars.
The car also boasts a range of safety features, including an emergency stop system in case a driver is unresponsive to handover warnings.
“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 kilometres (800,000 miles),” it said in a statement.
The new Legend is rated level 3 autonomy. Vehicle autonomy is rated on a scale of zero to five with five indicating the car is capable of operating by itself entirely.
While a number of car companies have produced vehicles at level three, few jurisdictions have approved their sale and use.
Honda will face stiff competition from Elon Musk’s Tesla, which is continually pushing its own autonomous driving abilities.
Analysts claim that a level four autonomous vehicle, where no driver would be needed, just passengers, is still some far off. Level five would result in a vehicle without a steering wheel that could handle any terrain by itself.