License system to be launched for highly autonomous mobility services in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan will introduce on April 1, 2023, a license system for mobility services with Level 4 autonomy involving remotely monitored vehicles that can operate without a driver in certain areas, according to the National Police Agency.

The NPA will reach a formal decision on the move after announcing a draft revision to an enforcement regulation for the road traffic law and ask the general public for opinions.

The agency also plans to introduce on the same day a notification system for providers of delivery services using automated robots.

The robots must have an emergency stop button and carry a logo showing that they are being remotely controlled.

As for the unmanned mobility services, the NPA expect that such services will be used to provide a means of transportation in areas where the population is decreasing.

For the license system, the agency will require service operators to give sufficient training to workers and take cybersecurity measures to protect devices monitoring the vehicles remotely.

The two envisaged systems are included in the revised road traffic law, enacted in April this year. The amended law stipulates that rules on the systems be put into effect within the next year.

The law defines the delivery robots as a small remotely-controlled vehicle that can run on the sidewalk.

The draft revision to the enforcement regulation stipulates that the robots, like electric wheelchairs, have a width of up to 70 centimeters and be capable of traveling no faster than 6 kph.