Recently Honda’s newest Civic LX equipped with advanced-driver assistance systems proved it could navigate a 25-mile Metro Detroit road course nearly hands free.
While the automaker is reluctant to tout its technology as truly hands-free, the vehicle starting at $20,440, and giving a taste of what Tesla has with Autopilot at a fraction of the price, highlights a rapidly changing trend toward semi-autonomous driving.
In a report by MarketWatch, a majority of the driving course on public streets could be completed by the Civic with foot off the accelerator and brakes, and hands off the wheel.
The vehicle however, is dependent upon line markings remaining present and another vehicle in front to maintain a safe following distance and track behind.
A rear-view mirror-mounted camera and other detection equipment supply on-the-fly data for the car’s sophisticated suite of complementary advanced-driver assistance systems (ADAS) to steer the vehicle with relative safety.
Honda’s inclusion of an $1,800 option package featuring lane-keeping assist, automatic braking, and adaptive cruise control is not entirely unique but is a low price point expected to put these kinds of vehicles in the hands of many more drivers, including newer and younger drivers.
The move dovetails with other automakers initiatives, including Chevrolet’s new Cruze, and follwos in the wake of an Obama administration commitment of $4 billion to speed up the day of I Robot, yet on the horizon.