Honda will bring its hands-free highway driver-assist technology to the US by the end of the decade, making it the latest automaker to offer partially automated driving tech to customers.
Honda Sensing, the company’s Level 2 advanced driver-assist system (ADAS), is already available to car owners who have opted to add the feature to their vehicles. Two upgraded systems, Honda Sensing 360 and Honda Sensing Elite, will add new features thanks to more capable sensors and advanced AI software developed by the automaker.
Honda owners in China will be able to purchase the upgraded Honda Sensing 360 system later this year. US customers can option up in the late 2020s, and by 2030, the system will come standard on all Honda vehicles.
US customers can option up in the late 2020s, and by 2030, the system will come standard on all Honda vehicles
As autonomous vehicle technology continues along its protracted timeline, automakers are going all in on so-called “safety” features like ADAS in an effort to get advanced technology into the hands of customers — and rake in revenue from expensive options or subscriptions in the process — sooner than later. Ford and General Motors have rolled out hands-free systems in recent years while promising to upgrade those systems to include unsupervised driving options in the near future.
Honda is one of the few automakers to deliver a Level 3 unsupervised system. Earlier this year, the company began leasing its Legend Hybrid EX in Japan, equipped with the top-shelf Honda Sensing Elite suite of driver-assist technologies. But according to Automotive News, which tested the vehicle, the system “introduces a whole new level of stress.” A test drive in Japan mostly showed off the system’s limitations rather than its capabilities.
The original Sensing ADAS system was introduced on the 2015 CR-V but has since become a standard feature. It offers many of the alerts designed to avoid or mitigate collisions, including pedestrian detection, automatic emergency braking, and driver attention monitoring.
Honda Sensing 360 will include hands-free highway driving and automatic lane changes. Honda Sensing Elite will be a Level 3 unsupervised system, which is only available in Japan. The automaker has yet to announce additional markets at this time.
Honda has been one of the more cautious automakers when it comes to autonomous vehicles. A recent ranking of the leading companies in autonomous technology doesn’t even include the Japanese automaker, which is the sixth-largest car company in the world. Honda has been in talks with some of the top AV operators in the US but has yet to reveal its own self-driving program. The company has previously said it is targeting 2025 to launch Level 4-capable self-driving cars.
In 2018, Honda announced it would invest over $2 billion in the GM-backed Cruise over 12 years. The automaker helped design the Cruise Origin, a shared electric autonomous vehicle lacking a steering wheel and pedals. Another deal with Waymo, the self-driving division of Alphabet, did not pan out, and both companies walked away.
But most companies, including Waymo and Cruise, have said they are skipping Level 3 and working exclusively on Level 4 technology. The reason is that Level 3 is seen as being potentially dangerous given the need for drivers to stay attentive despite the vehicle performing most of the driving tasks.