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Honda self-driving technology coming next year, report says

The report says the technology will be a Level 3 system for Japan and let drivers keep their eyes off the road.

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Japan is reportedly on deck first for autonomous tech from Honda.

Lillian Suwanrumpha/Getty Images

Honda may be prepared to make its first big step into the world of self-driving technology as soon as next year.

According to a report from Nikkei Asian Review on Friday, Honda plans to launch a Level 3 self-driving system with the Legend sedan next year in Japan. The technology will supposedly let drivers take their hands off the wheel and even look away from the road when in use. However, Level 3 systems, ranked on the SAE scale of autonomy, have to hand controls back to drivers whenever there's a problem -- a reason so many companies have skipped this level and moved straight to Level 4.

Honda did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report, but Roadshow also reached out to Honda's luxury division, Acura. A representative didn't directly comment on the self-driving technology reported, but noted the timing is in line with Honda's goal to produce autonomous technology in 2020.

Any autonomous system will likely make its way to an Acura in the US first, since luxury marques can absorb the cost premiums associated with the technology. The report claims the Legend with the L3 system will sell for around $91,000 at current exchange rates. That's one expensive Honda.

Japan has vigorously pursued autonomous technology and plans to commercialize L3 systems next year, lending more credit to the report.

Automakers and companies alike have quickly dialed back expectations for fully autonomous cars in recent years. Although Alphabet's Waymo division plans to expand self-driving rides without human backup drivers, automakers like GM failed to commercialize its own technology as once previously planned. GM does, however, offer its Super Cruise system that lets drivers take their hands off the wheel while driving on mapped US Interstates.

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