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Japan lays groundwork for 'level 4' autonomous driving

Unmanned public transportation a potential lifeline for remote communities

A town in Fukui Prefecture tested Level 3 self-driving vehicles in March. (Photo by Eiki Sato)

TOKYO -- Japan's transportation ministry plans to introduce stricter safety requirements for autonomous vehicles, paving the way for buses and other public transportation that can operate without human drivers in aging, rural communities. 

Japan is looking to level 4 automation, which does not require human control and may operate without a wheel or pedals, to provide a mobility solution to remote regions, where transit services are chronically hemorrhaging red ink.

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