Japanese company Honda Motor Co announced on Wednesday that it would be the first automaker in the world to begin mass production of self-driving Level 3 touchscreen vehicles that will allow drivers to navigate busy highways.
Self-driving cars are a key field technology battles for automakers, with tech companies like Google parent Alphabet Inc. also investing billions of dollars in an area that is expected to drive more car sales.
Earlier in the day, the Japanese government awarded Honda's Traffic Jam Pilot autonomous driving technology safety certificate, which legally prevents drivers from being distracted from the traffic situation.
There are six levels of vehicle autonomy, ranging from 0 to 5, from manual vehicles or vehicles with simple features like cruise control to fully autonomous vehicles that don't need steering wheel or brake and gas pedals.
Level 2 cars currently on public roads can control their speed and steering, but must have an adequate driver who can always take control.
At automation level 3, the system completely controls the vehicle's driving environment and takes over control of the movement under certain conditions. When any working environment becomes unsatisfactory, the system issues a warning and the driver must take control immediately.
In July, US electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc said it was "very close" to achieving Level 5 autonomous driving.