Japan Plans Autonomous Vehicle Lanes on Public Roads

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan has proposed the establishment of autonomous vehicle lanes on public roads in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture. If approved, these lanes would become the first for self-driving vehicles on a public road in Japan. The proposal was presented at a meeting of experts on digitizing infrastructure, as part of a draft interim report on the national development of “digital lifelines.”

The plan focuses on a two-kilometer stretch from JR Omika Station to the plants for Hitachi, Ltd. Cameras. As part of this plan, sensors will be installed along the route to monitor the movement of pedestrians and vehicles. This route is currently utilized by a bus rapid transit system.

In addition to Hitachi, the ministry plans to establish autonomous driving lanes on the new Tomei Expressway in Shizuoka Prefecture and on part of the Tohoku Expressway. These lanes are expected to be implemented by fiscal years 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Alongside the autonomous vehicle lanes, the ministry also plans to set up drone flight routes throughout the country. The Tenryu River system in Hamamatsu has been added to the already announced plans for the Chichibu area in Saitama Prefecture.

As part of its digitizing infrastructure efforts, the ministry also presented a policy to obtain 3D data on infrastructure, including electricity, gas, water, and sewage systems. This data will assist in preparing for large-scale disasters. The project will begin in Saitama and Hachioji in western Tokyo.

The Japanese government aims to realize its “Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation” and will compile a development plan with specific measures by the end of the fiscal year.

– The Yomiuri Shimbun