Japan's first transportation service based on so-called level 4 autonomous driving, or fully automated driving under certain conditions, started in the town of Eiheiji in Fukui Prefecture on Sunday.

Such services are expected to become a new means of public transit in regions facing population decline.

In Eiheiji, where level 4 autonomous driving was approved for the first time in the country, a seven-seater electric cart developed by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and others runs on a section of a walking trail spanning about 2 kilometers. There is no operator in the cart, and one person in charge of remote monitoring manages up to three such electric carts.