ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Politics

Japan steps on the gas for driverless-vehicle push

Autonomous truck convoys, lifts for seniors are on the agenda

Self-driving cars under development by Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

TOKYO -- Japan aims to fuel widespread adoption of self-driving vehicles by promoting test programs and updating traffic laws, looking to bring the technology to scarcely populated areas by 2020.

Driverless autos "will resolve regional labor shortages and limited mobility [for individuals] by 2020," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a government council Thursday. "We will examine the possibilities of system reforms based on new technologies."

From the fiscal year starting in April, driverless platoons of trucks will conduct test runs along the Shin-Tomei Expressway, an artery located partway between Tokyo and Nagoya. The convoys are slated to run in sets of three or more. Only the leading truck will have a human driver while the rest will follow via sensors. This eventually will provide relief to trucking companies struggling to find drivers.

Additionally, senior citizens in low population areas may receive driverless rides to stores or hospitals as the government brings mobility support services to at least 10 roadside stations and other locations nationwide.

The government looks to authorize "level three" or higher autonomous driving by 2020, in which systems control the vehicle unless human intervention is needed. But current Japanese law is unequipped to govern those vehicles, as it requires that a person be in the driver's seat and presumes that driver to have responsibility in a traffic accident.

Regulations need to be crafted concerning self-driving designation, safety standards, accident liability, insurance coverage and other areas. The government will clarify next fiscal year what legal measures are needed, mainly through the government's information technology strategic headquarters.

Collaboration with automakers and other private parties is crucial. But "cost-effectiveness will determine how far we will go," said an executive at a major car manufacturer.

(Nikkei)

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media