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  5. Bus Operation Businesses Determined Concerning the Public-Road Demonstration Tests for Mid-sized Buses with Autonomous Driving Systems

Bus Operation Businesses Determined Concerning the Public-Road Demonstration Tests for Mid-sized Buses with Autonomous Driving Systems

October 16, 2019

In June 2019, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) opened a call for applicants for transportation businesses to conduct public-road demonstration tests for mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems. The ministries hereby announce that as a result of the call, they selected bus operation businesses as successful applicants in five locations. Autonomous driving of automobiles can contribute to reducing the number of traffic accidents, securing means of mobility for the elderly and bringing about other social advantages. To this end, the ministries will strive to advance demonstration tests toward commercialization of public transportation services taking advantage of mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems.

As autonomous vehicles can contribute to reducing the number of traffic accidents, to providing secure mobility means to the elderly and to bringing about other benefits to society, the earliest-possible commercialization of autonomous driving technology is highly anticipated. Against this backdrop, the government of Japan has established the goal that Japan should realize a mobility service that uses unmanned, autonomous driving technology in limited areas within 2020.

To this end, METI and MLIT have been advancing a project titled “Research and Development/Demonstration Project for Implementation of an Advanced, Public, Autonomous Driving System: Demonstration of Implementing a Public Transportation System Taking Advantage of Autonomous Driving, etc., on Dedicated Lanes,” which has been commissioned to the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

As part of the project, AIST already conducted demonstration tests of small-sized buses with autonomous driving functionality, which are to serve as the base model for a series of automated bus models. Following on from this effort, the ministries decided to conduct another series of demonstration tests for mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems in order to improve the commercial feasibility of the base bus model. Aiming to conduct successful demonstration tests in a variety of driving environments until they establish safe base models, the ministries opened a call to bus operation business applicants from across Japan to conduct demonstration tests for mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems. As a result of the call, the ministries received 13 applications from bus operation businesses and selected the following five businesses through strict examination by external experts and others.

Selected bus operation businesses (in the order of the Japanese syllabary; locations in parentheses are the target locations for the demonstration tests)

For detailed explanations on the results of the call involving the selected bus operation businesses under the project, visit the AIST website.

References:

Division in Charge

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