Business / Tech

Japan aims to launch self-driving vehicle services by 2020

Kyodo

Japan is aiming to launch self-driving vehicle services on public roads by 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics, according to a draft growth strategy presented Monday.

The government set a goal of increasing the number of locations where such services are available to over 100 across the country by 2030, reflecting its ambition to spread the use of autonomous driving technology.

The draft strategy, presented to a government panel on future investment, pointed to the need for Japan to make better use of advanced technology such as artificial intelligence and big data.

A slow response will leave the country lagging behind in the intensifying global technology race, the strategy document said, adding that advances can be utilized to solve Japan’s dual challenges of its aging society and falling birthrate.

Automakers and other companies are competing to develop self-driving technology that the government hopes to show off in autonomous vehicles when the Olympics and Paralympics are held in Tokyo.

“We will promote bold regulatory reform that will serve as the basis for social change,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a meeting of the government investment panel.

The growth strategy sets out policy goals compiled by the Abe administration in 2013 and updated every year since.

The government plans to build necessary infrastructure by fiscal 2019 for vehicles such as buses and trucks to be maneuvered remotely.

Under the plan, self-driving mobility services will be offered at Tokyo’s Haneda airport to serve both domestic and international flights as well as nearby seafront areas.