Business / Tech

Japan planning safety standards for self-driving vehicles

Kyodo

The transport ministry said Monday it will introduce safety standards for self-driving vehicles in Japan as early as this fall, including an alarm system that sounds 15 seconds after a driver takes his hands off the steering wheel while traveling on a highway.

The introduction of the integrated standards is expected to spur the development of self-driving vehicles by Japanese automakers as well as information technology companies as they will make clear the technology necessary for such cars.

The safety standards are in line with an agreement reached Friday by a U.N. working party tasked with creating a uniform system of regulations for vehicle design to facilitate international trade.

Japanese automakers will be able to sell vehicles that pass domestic safety tests based on the new standards in the European market in the future as the same standards are expected to be introduced there.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will revise relevant ministerial ordinances under the Road Traffic Act in line with the new regulations.

The safety standards to be introduced in Japan also include setting speed limits depending on road curvature and functionality to enable a driver to switch from automated to manual driving when there is a risk of an accident.

Japan and Europe are leading discussions at the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, a body within the framework of the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe primarily focusing on automated vehicle safety standards for highway driving.

Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s second-largest automaker by volume, has revealed a vehicle with automated steering, acceleration and braking for single-lane expressway driving, the first Japanese manufacturer to launch a self-driving car.

The Japanese government views automated driving technologies as a pillar of its growth strategy. Major Japanese automakers are speeding up development of self-driving vehicles with the aim of introducing them by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.