The transport ministry plans to test “congestion pricing” in four municipalities with major tourist attractions, including Kyoto and Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The plan was presented to a panel on Thursday, with tests slated to begin this fall in Kamakura, Kobe and Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture. No fees will be collected in the tests.

Congestion pricing is a new system that employs state-of-the-art technologies to counter traffic jams, said University of Tokyo professor Eiji Hato, who chairs the panel. The ministry hopes to ease congestion by using artificial intelligence and other technologies.

Under the system, fees are charged for using roads and other facilities to reduce traffic. For the tests, AI-equipped cameras in the target areas will help predict when and where congestion tends to occur, based on vehicle speed and route data collected by ETC 2.0, a next-generation automated toll collection system. The tests will be designed to promote information-sharing between governments and police. Kamakura plans to conduct a related but different test in fiscal 2019.

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