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Public Road Demonstration Tests of Mid-Sized Buses with Autonomous Driving Systems to be Launched

July 10, 2020

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) selected bus operation businesses in five target areas for public-road demonstration tests for mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems in FY2019 and, since then, they have been advancing preparations for the tests. METI and MLIT will start a series of demonstration tests of such buses in a target area in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture from July 12, 2020, and in that in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture from July 20, 2020. Following this, they will launch such demonstration tests in the three remaining areas in sequence.

METI and MLIT have been advancing a project titled “Demonstration Project for Implementation of an Advanced Autonomous Driving System, MaaS, etc. in Society: Demonstration of Implementing a Terminal Transportation System in Society Utilizing Autonomous Driving, etc., on Dedicated Lanes,” which has been commissioned to the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST).

In the commissioned project above, they are scheduled to accomplish target demonstration tests in a variety of driving environments in order to establish bus models for autonomous driving. For this purpose, in FY2019, they developed two mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems, opened a call for applicants across Japan for bus operation businesses that conduct demonstration tests, and selected bus operation businesses, etc. in five areas.* Since then, these businesses have been advancing preparations, such as developing driving environments in the respective target areas. Moreover, in February 2020, one of the businesses conducted a pre-demonstration test using small-sized buses with autonomous driving systems in target areas in Kitakyushu City and Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture.

Out of the five selected areas, METI and MLIT will launch a series of demonstration tests of mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems in a target area in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture from July 12, 2020, and that in Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture from July 20, 2020. In the three remaining areas, they will start a series of demonstration tests. In these demonstration tests, they will examine not only technical aspects of mid-sized buses with autonomous driving systems but also business feasibility of such buses with passengers boarding the buses.

Target areas of the demonstration tests Bus operation businesses, etc. Periods of the demonstration tests (provisional)
Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture Keihan Bus Co., Ltd., Otsu City From July 12 to September 27, 2020 (provisional)
Sanda City, Hyogo Prefecture Shinki Bus Co., Ltd. From July 20 to August 23, 2020 (provisional)
Kitakyushu City and Kanda Town, Fukuoka Prefecture Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd. From early September to late November 2020*
Hitachi City, Ibaraki Prefecture Ibaraki Transport Co., Ltd. From early October 2020 to early March 2021*
Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture Kanagawa Chuo Kotsu Co., Ltd. From early December 2020 to early March 2021*

* These periods include preparation periods.

For details of the project, including the departure ceremony of the first bus, visit the AIST website.

References:

Division in Charge

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