Govt OK’s bill for level 4 autonomous mobility services

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The government Friday adopted a bill to revise the road traffic law to realize mobility services with Level 4 autonomy, which does not require a driver in the vehicle.

The bill, to be introduced during the current session of the Diet, calls for a permit system for businesses providing such services.

Also planned are new rules on the use of electric kick scooters and automated delivery robots, which are attracting attention as new means of transportation and delivery.

If the bill is enacted, the new rules will come into force within a year for automated driving and delivery robots and within two years for electric scooters.

The government aims to realize by around fiscal 2022 mobility services using unmanned autonomous vehicles with remote monitoring as a means of transportation for elderly people in depopulated areas.

According to the bill, businesses hoping to provide transportation services with automated driving technology in specific areas will need to submit operation plans to local prefectural public safety commissions and obtain permission.

Service providers will also be required safety officials responsible for remotely monitoring their operations and stay ready to dispatch staff anytime if an accident happens.

The bill stipulates penalties for failing to take appropriate measures in the event of an accident and committing traffic violations, including administrative punishment such as revoking permission granted to operators.

To drive electric kick scooters whose maximum speed is 20 kilometers per hour, no license will be required. However, those under age 16 will not be allowed to ride them.