NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Self-driving vehicles were put through road tests Monday in Okinawa, with officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry saying they hope the technology will be adopted soon.
The tests overseen by METI saw two four-seater electric carts navigate roads fitted with the required routing technology near hotels and tourist facilities in Chatan on the west coast of Okinawa Island.
Further trials will involve driverless microbuses traveling short distances in other regions, according to the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, which conducted Monday’s tests with other firms.
Self-driving vehicles “can be utilized in less-populated areas and tourist sites. We are using these experiments to assess their safety,” said Shin Kato, an official from the institute.
In a joint effort with such firms as Yamaha Motor Co. and Hitachi Ltd., the institute will conduct more tests to evaluate safety issues while investigating ways to reduce waiting times for people using such services, the institute said.