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Subaru eyes automated car sales for use on ordinary roads in late 2020s

This photo shows the Subaru logo. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Subaru Corp. aims to start selling vehicles equipped with an equivalent of "level-2" autonomous technology that can steer, accelerate and slow down on ordinary roads in the second half of the 2020s, company officials said Tuesday.

    Several automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co., already offer level-2 autonomous vehicles for use on expressways, but developing such vehicles running on ordinary roads has been a challenge due to the need to respond to unexpected scenarios such as pedestrians' movements and to avoid accidents.

    Subaru plans to develop a next-generation system utilizing its EyeSight Driver Assist Technology and artificial intelligence to recognize the traffic lane even when the white line on the roads cannot be seen.

    Level-2 technologies allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel under certain conditions, but they are required to monitor the driving at all times.

    In March, Honda Motor Co. launched the revamped Legend sedan in Japan with level-3 autonomous technology -- the world's first vehicle to hit the market that allows the driver to engage in different tasks such as reading and watching TV when the car is in certain conditions including congested traffic on expressways.

    But in the case of an emergency the driver needs to take full control of the vehicle.

    Autonomous driving technology is classified into five levels, ranging from level 1, which allows either steering, acceleration or braking to be automated, to a fully automated level 5.

    Competition has also been intensifying among global automakers in the development of vehicles with level-4 self-driving technology, which can conduct driving tasks without human intervention within a limited area.

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