No manufacturer has yet released a vehicle on general sale that meets the requirements of Level 3 autonomy. However, Honda says that it has received the required type designation for Level 3 automated driving from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). This approval permits an 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.
On the back of this development, the company is planning to launch sales of a Honda Legend model equipped with the newly approved automated driving equipment (Traffic Jam Pilot) by the end of March 2021. The system will, legally, allow drivers to take their eyes off the road while it is in operation, though there is still a requirement for drivers to take back control if necessary.
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 on April 1, 2020. Through 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). According to Honda, any such system must meet the following standards according to the Japanese authorities.
- 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 cybersecurity 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 six-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 auto makers.).