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Mitsubishi Fuso targets 2025 rollout of highly autonomous trucks

Company beats rivals to Level 4 system with big push from German parent Dailmer

Mitsubishi Fuso's eCanter truck
Mitsubishi Fuso's highly autonomous trucks will help Japan deal with a shortage of delivery-truck drivers.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus plans to operate Level 4 highly autonomous commercial trucks on some public roads, such as highways, by around 2025, President and CEO Hartmut Schick told Nikkei.

A Level 4 vehicle can drive itself without human assistance, but only in specific environments, such as highways. The Japanese government is urging private companies to commercialize logistics services with system-controlled Level 4 trucks in 2025 or later, a move expected to help ease a chronic shortage of truck drivers in the country's delivery sector.

Other Japanese truck makers, such as Isuzu Motors and Hino Motors, plan to introduce Level 4 models after 2025. Schick stressed that this comes after Mitsubishi Fuso's launch of its highly autonomous trucks.

Mitsubishi Fuso will share sensors and other key components with German parent Daimler, modifying the vehicles for use in Japan. Schick says 80% of key components could be shared between commercial and passenger vehicles, and there should be no significant gap in the timing of commercialization between the two types.

Daimler is conducting trial runs of self-driving commercial and passenger cars worldwide. In 2020, the automaker plans to roll out semi-autonomous trucks, which are capable of self-driving under certain conditions with driver assistance. The launch will be made through its unit in the U.S., a country that leads in formulating laws governing self-driving vehicles.

By the early 2020s, Daimler aims to develop trucks with Level 5 autonomy -- fully autonomous performance under all road and driving conditions that a human driver can manage.

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