The transport ministry is considering the implementation of automated freight lanes connecting cities such as Tokyo and Osaka to transport cargo, which would be expected to reduce congestion by up to 35,000 vehicles per day and help address a critical driver shortage in the freight industry.

Such lanes would allow the transportation of small parcels using unmanned carts. Preparations for a trial run in a limited area and for a set period of time will begin soon, with a goal to implement routes within the next 10 years.

Highway companies have proposed that automated freight lanes be set up either on the median strip or side of highways, or underground. The companies have also provided details on the technical feasibility of such lanes, said Yuri Endo, an official at the ministry’s road bureau.