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  5. Automated Delivery Robots to Operate on Public Roads from April 2023

Automated Delivery Robots to Operate on Public Roads from April 2023

- Event held for the press to showcase the robots -

March 27, 2023

Aiming to overcome labor shortages and other challenges in the logistics industry, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has been advancing such efforts as a measure for supporting technology development to introduce automated delivery robots to society.

In the lead up to starting to allow such robots to operate on public roads from April 2023, METI and the Robot Delivery Association jointly held an event for the press on March 27, 2023, to showcase the robots at a METI site.

1. Background and outline of the event

Since launching a public-private council in 2019, METI has held repeated discussions with the industrial sector, the related ministries and agencies and other stakeholders to achieve the operation of automated delivery robots on public roads. On April 1, 2023, the Act of Partial Revision of the Road Traffic Act came into force, and this allows such robots that satisfy certain requirements in size or structure to operate on public roads if related businesses file the notification. This step has made the full-fledged public introduction of robots finally possible.

At the event on March 27, 2023, eight automated delivery robots from eight related businesses were featured at a METI site, where they showcased their operation and utilization in practical scenarios.


2. Scenes from the event

At the event, after Mr. SAWAI Shun, Deputy Director-General for Commerce and Service Industry Policy, and Dr. SATO Tomomasa, Representative Director, Robot Delivery Association, each delivered a speech, the press observed as robots navigated the area and performed other functions.

Specifically, in the demonstration, the robots preformed in situations that are similar to actual utilization scenarios, including driving in straight lines, turning and undertaking other basic actions, a quick braking operation in response to a person who abruptly appeared in front of the robot, and unlocking a locker and taking out a product.

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A scene of the robot braking quickly A scene of the robot taking a product out of a locker

In permitting automated delivery robots to travel on the sidewalks, which are public spaces, it is important to raise pedestrians’ awareness of such robots.

METI will strive to enhance social acceptance of automated delivery robots, through efforts such as awareness raising of the robots and communication of the benefits of their services, through collaboration with Robot Delivery Association.

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Division in Charge

Logistics Policy Planning Office, Commerce and Service Industry Policy Group

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