Honda says it will launch Level 3 autonomous cars

TOKYO — Honda has received type approval in Japan to sell vehicles with Level 3 “eyes off” autonomous driving technology.

The automaker said it plans to launch sales of Legend sedan equipped with the newly approved automated driving equipment by March 31. 

The approval from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism enables the system to drive the vehicle instead of the driver under certain conditions, such as when the vehicle is in congested traffic on expressway, Honda said in a statement on Wednesday.

When driving environment conditions become unsatisfactory, the system will issue a warning, and the driver must take over the driving immediately, Honda said.

The race to build self-driving cars is a key technology battleground for automakers, with technology companies such as Google parent Alphabet also investing billions of dollars in a field expected to boost car sales.