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Public-Road Demonstration Tests of Autonomous Driving System Using Driverless Trucks in Caravan on Expressway to be Held

On the Shin Tomei Expressway from June 25, 2019, to February 28, 2020

June 7, 2019

Joint press release with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

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 June 25, 2019, they will launch demonstration tests of an autonomous driving system using driverless trucks in a caravan on the Shin Tomei Expressway.

Under the Future Strategy 2018 (approved by the Cabinet on June 15, 2018), METI and MLIT have been advancing efforts for realizing an autonomous driving system for driverless trucks traveling in a caravan on expressways, which is one of the major goals to achieve the mobility revolution in Japan. As part of these efforts, the ministries aim to succeed in such a system that allows driverless trucks to travel on an expressway (the Shin Tomei Expressway) in a caravan with no drivers in either the second truck or the following trucks in 2020, in order to commercialize the system in 2022 at the earliest possible time.

As part of the project titled “Research and Development/Demonstration Project for Implementation of an Advanced Autonomous Driving System in Society,” the ministries have launched demonstration tests of an autonomous driving system using driverless trucks in a caravan in the second and following trucks behind a leading truck with a driver on an expressway in January 2018 and demonstration tests of an autonomous driving system using driverless trucks in a caravan on an expressway, in which drivers are on board the second and following trucks for safety reasons (in January 2019).

Against this backdrop, aiming to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technologies in a variety of natural road environments, including in tunnels, at night, or under other roadconditions and circumstances, by expanding the distances of test traveling longer than the previous tests, and to improve the reliability of the technologies, the ministries decided to conduct new series of public-road demonstration tests of an autonomous driving system that allows driverless trucks to travel on expressways in a caravan on part of the Shin Tomei Expressway between Hamamatsu-Inasa Interchange to Nagaizumi-Numazu Interchange from June 25, 2019, to February 28, 2020. (*1)

In the FY2019 public-road demonstration tests, a caravan of two to three driverless trucks with an autonomous driving system will travel on the expressway at a speed of 70km to 80km per hour with an inter-vehicle distance of about 10m or about 20m (*2). In these tests, drivers will be on board the second and following trucks for safety reasons. Moreover, a caravan of four trucks with an autonomous driving system, in which a leading truck is autonomously operated and the second and following trucks are operated by drivers, will travel on the expressway at a speed of 70km to 80km per hour with an inter-vehicle distance of about 35m. From the viewpoint of securing safety, drivers, who have extensive experience in driving such trucks on test courses, will be on board all trucks in these tests.

Through these demonstration tests, following on from the previous tests, the ministries will confirm the following points: whether or not the target function, which is necessary for realizing the autonomous driving system under development that allows driverless trucks to travel on roads, will work as designed; how other drivers of vehicles traveling near the caravan will recognize the caravan, for e.g., conspicuousness and impressions; and how the caravan will exert influence on behaviors of traveling vehicles near the caravan, for e.g., when the caravan overtakes other traveling vehicles, and other elements, as well as aiming at improvement of reliability of such autonomous driving system and accumulation of long-term data.

*Notes:
1. The period of the demonstration tests may change depending on the progress. During the period, night traveling tests are scheduled to be conducted.

2. In these tests, mounting certain functions on the trucks, e.g., those for keeping the predetermined inter-vehicle distance and following a leading truck, will make it possible to achieve the movement of the caravan at a speed of 70km to 80km per hour with an inter-vehicle distance of about 10m or about 20m.

Division in Charge

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