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  5. Embarking on Demonstration Tests of Autonomous Driving System using Driverless Trucks in Caravan to Travel on Public Expressways

Embarking on Demonstration Tests of Autonomous Driving System using Driverless Trucks in Caravan to Travel on Public Expressways

January 8, 2019

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) have been advancing a project titled “Research and Development/Demonstration Project for Implementation of an Advanced Autonomous Driving System in Society.” As part of this effort, on January 22, 2019, they will begin public-road demonstration tests of an autonomous driving system using driverless trucks in the second and third position in a caravan traveling on the Shin Tomei Expressway. During these tests, drivers will be aboard all trucks to respond in the event of an emergency.

METI and MLIT have been advancing the development of an autonomous driving system which allows for driverless trucks to follow a lead truck (driven by a human driver) in a caravan, and have conducted repeated demonstration tests of the system on test courses. Following these tests, METI and MLIT will begin public-road demonstration tests of the system*1 on the Shin Tomei Expressway between January 22 and February 28, 2019.

In the FY2018 public-road demonstration tests, a caravan of up to three trucks will travel on the expressway at a speed of 70km per hour with an inter-vehicle distance of about 10m.*2 Drivers with significant experience in operating such trucks on test courses will be aboard the second and third trucks only to respond to emergencies.

These tests aim to confirm the following points in the actual driving environment: whether or not the target device, which is a necessary component of the system under development that will enable driverless trucks to travel on all roads, will work as designed*3; how other drivers of vehicles traveling near the caravan will recognize and react to the caravan, (e.g., conspicuousness and reactions); and how the caravan will influence the behavior of other drivers traveling near the caravan, (e.g., when the caravan overtakes other traveling vehicles), and other items.


*1. The system tested in the previous demonstration tests on the public road occurred while drivers operated the CACC systems in the trucks in the caravan and therefore the vehicles were driven to some extent by drivers.

*2. This test is targeting certain equipment that will be installed in the trucks (e.g., the devices to maintain the predetermined inter-vehicle distance and follow the lead vehicles properly).

*3. This will be the first demonstration test in Japan of trucks in which a device has been installed to allow the truck to change lanes to follow the lead truck.

Division in Charge

ITS and Autonomous Driving Promotion Office, Automobile Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau