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G-7 transport chiefs vow to take lead in promoting self-driving cars

Kyodo

Transport ministers from the Group of Seven industrialized countries agreed Saturday to reinforce international cooperation in creating safety regulations to promote self-driving cars.

“We will cooperate with each other and exercise leadership to support the early commercialization of automated and connected vehicle technologies,” a declaration adopted at a meeting in the resort town of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, said.

Ministers and representatives from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States plus the European Union also pledged in the declaration to set up a group to work on resolving problems pertaining to introducing self-driving cars.

“We obtained a common understanding to make efforts in the same direction to create regulation frameworks that (will) tend to vary depending on region,” transport minister Keiichi Ishii told a news conference after the meeting.

The envisioned international safety regulations would enable automakers to sell the same car models worldwide, resulting in lower sales prices due to mass production, experts say.

The declaration noted that the introduction of self-driving cars is expected to have such benefits as reducing traffic accidents, improving efficiencies including logistics and alleviating burdens on drivers.

To foster development of self-driving cars by automakers, the ministers pledged to intensify efforts to develop globally harmonized regulations and to seek to remove regulatory barriers to self-driving technologies at the domestic and international levels.

“We concur on the necessity of providing guidance to manufactures and adopting other measures to ensure safe real world testing and development of automated and connected vehicles,” the declaration said.

To prevent traffic accidents triggered by cyber attacks on self-driving vehicles, the ministers recognized the need for action to prevent unauthorized access.

Regarding transport infrastructure, the ministers also agreed in a separate declaration to encourage use of innovative financing methods such as public-private partnerships to secure sufficient funds for maintenance purposes.

The transport ministers’ meeting, which ends Sunday, is the last of the ministerial meetings related to the G-7 leaders’ Ise-Shima summit that was held in Mie Prefecture in late May.

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