TOKYO -- Japan's transport ministry envisions building the country's first hub for automated vehicles in downtown Tokyo in conjunction with the 2027 start of service on a ultrahigh-speed train line.
Located in bayside Shinagawa, which also offers rail access to Haneda Airport, the hub would initially serve as a pickup and drop-off point for self-driving cars headed to hotels, stores and other local attractions.
Later on, the terminal would also offer self-driving buses to bustling areas like Shibuya shops or popular nightlife destination Roppongi. The tentative plans also call for a commercial facility to go with the hub.
The hub would be built over a roadway leading to Shinagawa Station, one end of a magnetic levitation train line that will zip passengers at speeds of up to 500 kmh from Tokyo to Nagoya.
The plans, to be completed by next April, could serve as a model for interconnected travel infrastructure nationwide.
The hub would be designed for vehicles equipped with level 4 self-driving technology -- the second-highest level, in which humans need not take the wheel in most conditions.
The government has set a target of launching level-4 automated transport services within limited areas by 2020, and expanding them to 100 locations countrywide by a decade later. The Shinagawa Station area is proposed as a testing ground for new transport technologies.
In other high-tech transport developments, Uber picked Japan as one of five locations it is considering for the commercial launch of its flying-taxi business. The world's first autonomous taxi to run on public roads started operating in central Tokyo last month.