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Automation: Japan plans to introduce stricter safety requirements for autonomous vehicles

Level 4 automation technology will not require human control and may operate without a wheel or pedals

Japan is looking to level 4 automation technology to provide a mobility solution to remote regions, where transit services are chronically haemorrhaging red ink. Transportation Ministry of Japan 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.

Level 4 automation technology will not require human control and may operate without a wheel or pedals.

Higher safety standards are necessary as level 4 automation technology vehicles would need to operate autonomously even in bad weather or in emergency situations. The current standards cover only up to Level 3, which is premised on humans taking over driving in emergencies.

More required sophisticated controls for such vehicles, such as the ability to safely and autonomously pull over when ambulances are near is the aim of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The plan is to upgrade the safety requirements to coincide with an amendment to Japan’s Road Traffic Act planned by fiscal 2022, which would allow remotely monitored autonomous vehicles to operate within certain regions.

In March, the town of Eiheiji in Fukui Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast, became the first municipality in Japan to launch a Level 3 transportation service, where a driver remotely oversees three vehicles transporting tourists.

The transportation ministry also tested autonomous buses at five locations, including the city of Yokohama.

By 2025, the government aims to provide transportation services with level 4 automation technologies at 40 locations nationwide, and over 100 locations by 2030.

Level 4 automation technologies are not expected to become widespread in Japan’s passenger cars until about 2025.

Also readCIO News interviews Shri Wangki Lowang, Minister (IT) of Arunachal Pradesh

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