Why Honda’s Level 3-Approved Traffic Jam Pilot ADAS Would Be Perfect in the U.S.

Based on the “Safety for Everyone” slogan, Honda continuously researches and develops safety technologies. The company's top advanced safety and driver-assist suite is called Sensing Elite, and the latest version has just been launched on the flagship Legend Hybrid EX, which includes Traffic Jam Pilot Assist, Japan’s first Level 3-approved ADAS.
Honda Legend Hybrid EX 12 photos
Photo: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
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A few decades ago, features we now take for granted like seat belts, ABS, or cruise control were considered advanced safety features and driver assists.

Fueled by the rapid technological advancements and the perpetual quest of creating safer and smarter means of transportation, the automotive industry has come a long way from that. It's currently building vehicles with advanced safety and driver assist systems that were part of the science-fiction lore not long ago.

Honda has been one of the manufacturers dedicated to making its vehicles safer and more convenient by continually developing a suite of safety features and driver assists called Sensing. The automaker recently took the safety suite to another level with the release of the Sensing Elite variation. As the name implies, it includes the most advanced technologies the carmaker has to offer.

Featured on the flagship Legend Hybrid EX, which has become available for lease in Japan recently, it includes the innovative Traffic Jam Pilot Assist (TJPA) that the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has approved as a Level 3 advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS), making it the first such system to earn this designation in the country.

Honda Legend Hybrid EX
Photo: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Level 3 is considered conditional automation, where vehicles are able to drive themselves in certain circumstances taking control of acceleration, braking, and steering. Drivers can theoretically take their eyes off the road at certain times but still need to be prepared to intervene when called upon by the system.

TJPA is an advanced, low-speed, adaptive cruise control-like feature that uses data from 3D maps, a global navigation satellite system, and several external sensors that provide 360-degree input to drive the vehicle in certain conditions such as congested traffic on an expressway.

Honda states that the system can recognize current traffic conditions, anticipate future conditions, and apply a high level of control over acceleration, braking, and steering to fully assist the driver and make life easier in nightmarish expressway traffic.

In practice, the TJPA drives, stops, and resumes driving within the same lane while maintaining a safe distance from any vehicles detected ahead. Drivers can watch a movie on the infotainment screen, text, browse a playlist, or operate the navigation system to search for a destination.

If needed, the system, which continuously monitors the person behind the wheel using a high-definition camera fitted inside the cabin, will send audio and visual notifications so that he or she can safely retake control of the vehicle.

Honda Sensing Elite Suite
Photo: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
The manufacturer tells us that approximately 10 million patterns of possible real-world situations were simulated during the development of this system, along with a total of around 800,000 miles (1.3 million km) of testing conducted on expressways all over Japan.

Apart from the Traffic Jam Pilot Assist, the Sensing Elite suite includes other advanced features. For example, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) will take over driving functions even when drivers have their hands off the steering wheel. Then there's Emergency Stop Assist, which decelerates and stops the vehicle by automatically making lane changes to the outermost lane or the shoulder of the road if the driver is unresponsive to multiple system requests for a transfer of control back to the driver (also called a handover).

It’s unclear when Honda will bring this suite to other markets such as the U.S., where it discontinued the Legend’s American counterpart, the Acura RLX, last year. However, one thing’s certain: it would make the manufacturer’s vehicles a lot more appealing, especially considering that the Traffic Jam Pilot Assist would be extremely useful on America’s congested highways.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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