Japan Planning 100-kilometer Lane for Self-Driving Vehicles

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Prime Minister’s Office

The government plans to establish a 100-kilometer lane for self-driving vehicles between Surugawan-Numazu and Hamamatsu on the Shin-Tomei Express route in fiscal 2024.

The decision came during a Friday meeting of the Council for a Vision for a Digital Garden City Nation Realization chaired by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the Prime Minister’s Office. The government also confirmed its intention to create safe, nationwide drone routes.

The plans are part of a comprehensive government development plan for digitization, which was rolled out at the meeting.

“I want the entire government to work together on this project,” Kishida said. The prime minister instructed Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura to accelerate preparations for the project.

The government’s goal is for automated vehicles to be able to provide logistics and other services in 100 locations throughout Japan by fiscal 2027.

Regarding the drone routes, the plan initially aims to cover more than 150 kilometers in the Chichibu area of Saitama Prefecture by fiscal 2024, using power transmission and distribution infrastructure such electricity pylons and utility poles.

In the future, the government’s hopes to establish routes covering some 40,000 kilometers — a distance equivalent to the circumference of the Earth.