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Self-driving cars: Japan opens roads to Level 4 vehicles in April

Autonomous buses seen as 1st step as big Japanese automakers take cautious path

Tier IV, based in Nagoya, began a trial of self-driving shuttle buses in February at Narita Airport near Tokyo. (Photo courtesy of Tier IV)

TOKYO -- Japan plans to allow nearly autonomous vehicles on public roads in a limited capacity starting this spring, paving the way for services such as robotaxis and driverless buses.

Under plans revealed this week, the National Police Agency seeks next April to lift a ban on so-called Level 4 self-driving vehicles, which can operate without a driver under certain conditions.

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