Honda Sensing Elite Launches in Japan with Level 3 Automated Driving Features

The Honda Legend for the Japanese market will receive the automaker’s new Honda Sensing Elite safety system. The Honda Legend Hybrid EX, available for lease in Japan as of March 2021, will include the newly-revised safety package. Honda Sensing Elite is an expanded variation of Honda Sensing, a suite of ADAS technologies currently available on Honda vehicles globally.

Traffic Jam Pilot

Honda Sensing Elite includes a feature called Traffic Jam Pilot. As described by Honda, Traffic Jam Pilot enables the automated system to operate the vehicle, instead of the driver, under certain conditions, such as when the vehicle is in congested traffic on an expressway. Traffic Jam Pilot received a Level 3 designation from the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in November 2020.

Traffic Jam Pilot determines vehicle position and varying road conditions using data from external body panel sensors, 3D high-definition maps, and the global navigation satellite system (GNSS). Meanwhile, an interior camera helps monitor the driver during vehicle operation. According to Honda, the main electronic control unit uses the collected data to recognize and anticipate both current and future conditions to apply the proper acceleration, braking, and steering inputs to assist the driver.

To increase the safety and effectiveness of Traffic Jam Pilot, Honda subjected it to approximately 10 million patterns of possible real-world situations during development. Further real-world tests were conducted for a total of 800,000 miles on other roads and expressways.

Honda Legend Hybrid EX with Honda Sensing Elite.
Honda Legend Hybrid EX. Photo: Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

Honda Sensing Elite: Other Features

In addition to Traffic Jam Pilot, Honda Sensing Elite employs other next-generation ADAS features. Here is a list with a brief description of each.

Hands-Off Functionality

When Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) are activated, and when certain conditions are met on an expressway, the system can assist with the driving task even if the person has removed their hands from the steering wheel.

Adaptive in Lane Driving

This system assists with vehicle operation when following another car ahead within a recognizable lane. Like ACC, when another car is detected in front, the system helps maintain a proper following distance.

Active Lane Change Assist with Hands-off Function (Driver Assessment)

When Adaptive in Lane Driving is engaged, and once the driver confirms it is safe to change lanes and activates the turn signal, the system provides throttle, braking, and steering inputs to facilitate that lane change.

Active Lane Change with Hands-off Function (System Assessment)

When Adaptive in Lane Driving is activated, once the driver initiates the Active Lane Change with Hands-off Function, the system assesses the situation and assists in the lane change and/or passing of other vehicles under certain conditions. When another, slower-moving car is detected ahead, the system alerts the driver. It then assists with passing that car and returning the Honda Legend to its original lane.

Emergency Stop Assist

Suppose the driver is unresponsive to multiple system requests for a handover (or rather, the transfer of control back to the driver). In that case, the system initiates deceleration and will stop the vehicle by making lane change(s) to the outermost lane or the shoulder of the road. To be more specific, in cases where the driver does not respond to the system’s handover requests, the Traffic Jam Pilot/Hands-off Function will be disengaged. The system will urge the driver to respond to the handover request using visual, auditory, and tactile alerts, including escalated alarm sounds and seatbelt vibrations.

If, at this point, the driver is still unresponsive, the system will attempt to alert other vehicles in the immediate vicinity via the hazard lights and horn. According to Honda, depending on the situation, the system can and may bring the vehicle to a stop without making lane changes.

Human-Machine Interface (HMI)

Honda says the HMI allows drivers to recognize the system’s operating status and any forthcoming handover requests. Indicator lights on the steering wheel, the top part of the navigation screen, and the glovebox help guide the driver. When the Hands-off Function is activated, the indicator light on the steering wheel illuminates. When Traffic Jam Pilot is initiated, other indicator lights illuminate with a blue hue. Finally, when the system requests a handover, all indicator lights change to a blinking orange.


The Honda Legend Hybrid EX with Honda Sensing Elite is currently available for lease in Japan. As of this writing, Honda has not announced if Honda Sensing Elite will be available in other markets.