In November last year, Honda announced it had "received the required type designation for Level 3 automated driving" in Japan. This approval allows the company to sell cars in the country, equipped with Level 3 autonomous driving systems. It took Honda just four months to prepare the 2021 Legend equipped with the tech for public sales.

Starting today, the Honda Legend EX with the so-called Honda Sensing Elite will be available for lease sales in Japan. The semi-autonomous driving system upgrades the existing Honda Sensing family of systems, available for models of the brand in Europe and the United States.

Gallery: 2021 Honda Legend with Level 3 autonomous system

The main feature of the Elite system is the Traffic Jam Pilot, which takes full control of the car when it is in a bumper-to-bumper traffic situation. The function is responsible for the acceleration, braking, and steering in the conditions of congested traffic, and Honda promises it delivers "high-quality and smooth driving."

The system is based on three-dimensional high-definition maps, as well as several external sensors detecting the vehicle’s 360-degree surroundings. Inside the cabin, there’s a camera tracking the “conditions of the driver.”

The development of the Traffic Jam Pilot employed simulations of approximately 10 million patterns of possible real-world situations. In addition, vehicles equipped with the system were tested for a total of approximately 800,000 miles (1.3 million kilometers). 

With the launch of the 2021 Legend equipped with the Honda Sensing Elite, the Japanese manufacturer is effectively becoming the first automaker in the world to offer a Level 3 autonomous driving system in a production vehicle. For now, the offering is only available in Japan and Honda says it plans only “limited lease sales.”

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