Copyright FOURIN, Inc. 2022
Current Situation, Future Policies of Autonomous Driving, ITS Development in Japan
FOURIN spoke with Yoshihiro Suda, Professor of The University of Tokyo, regarding the current situation and roadmap of autonomous driving and ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) in Japan. Professor Suda is involved in the formulation of the public-private ITS concept as a member of the National Strategy Office for Information and Communications Technology under the Cabinet Secretariat.
In Japan, legal developments related to autonomous driving have greatly advanced over the past year. In May 2019, the “Draft Act Revising Part of the Road Transport Vehicle Act,” and the “Draft Act Revising Part of the Road Traffic Act” were passed by Japan’s Diet. The former one deals with safety of autonomous-driving cars from the design and manufacturing stage to the practical application stage, while the latter one prepares regulations on drivers’ duties corresponding to the practical application of autonomous driving technology. With the enactment of these laws, there are almost no policy obstacles preventing the introduction of autonomous driving technology up to Level 3. The concrete system design of Level 4 will be carried out from now on.
Level 3 autonomous driving on public roads by privately-owned cars is difficult for the time being, but on the other hand, Level 4-equivalent unmanned autonomous driving service in limited areas has been tested in various places.
The guidelines for public road demonstration tests are decided to be applied at the time of business development, and we are now in the stage of considering how to establish a sustainable business model. The establishment of a sustainable business model for social implementation of autonomous driving is currently under development. In April 2019, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism launched the MaaS society implementation model “Smart Mobility Challenge.” Kamishihoro town in Hokkaido, Japan in cooperation with Trust Bank introduced a community bus route in 2018. The town has become one of the target areas of the MaaS society implementation model “Smart Mobility Challenge.”
A revision of vehicle inspections due to the spread of autonomous driving / ADAS was also decided in March 2019. OBD vehicle inspections will be conducted from 2024 on exhaust emission prevention devices, driving support technologies and automated driving technologies.
Current Status and Roadmap of Autonomous Driving and ITS Development in Japan
Based on an interview with Yoshihiro Suda (Professor, The University of Tokyo)
at Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo (Meguro City, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan)
on October 2, 2019
Development status of autonomous driving strategy in Japan
The National Strategy Office for Information and Communications Technology under the Cabinet Secretariat updates the public-private ITS concept roadmap every year. I was a member of the Office and was involved in formulating the roadmap. In response to the policy of the Office, the Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) of the Cabinet Office was implemented. In conjunction with this, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and National Police Agency are proceeding with projects along the roadmap.
In accordance with the roadmap, let’s take a look at recent autonomous driving-related activities by each ministry. First, in order to ensure vehicle safety, the “Safety Technical Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles” that outlines safety requirements was formulated in September 2018. Furthermore, “Draft Act Revising Part of the Road Transport Vehicle Act,” which deals with safety of autonomous driving cars from the design and manufacturing stage to the practical application stage, and the “Draft Act Revising Part of the Road Traffic Act,” which prepares regulations on drivers’ duties corresponding to the practical application of autonomous driving technology, were submitted to the Diet and subsequently passed in May 2019.
The roadmap announced in June 2019 outlines the following, 1 clarification of detailed initiatives for practical application of autonomous driving in the target year of 2020, 2 considering the establishment of a sustainable business model for social implementation of autonomous driving and 3 presentation of a future image that incorporates autonomous driving in the rapidly developing MaaS (Mobility as a Service).
Under the revised Road Traffic Law, driver responsibility was recognized up to Level 2, and system responsibility was recognized after Level 3. However, the revised law acknowledges the system’s responsibility for driving maneuvers while the driver remains responsible for safety monitoring. In addition, self-responsibility insurance will be applied for damages caused by accidents while using the autonomous driving system. It is the driver’s responsibility in civil cases.