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Japan Revises Road Traffic Law, Allowing Level Iv Autonomous Driving

Japan on Saturday enacted the revised road traffic law, allowing Level IV autonomous driving on public roads.

Based on the four-level automated vehicle classification, Level IV self-driving cars require the least degree of human driver involvement, and are able to operate unmanned over established routes, making decisions and performing maneuvers even in emergencies.

The previous law permitted level III driving, in which a self-driving system operates the car much of the time, but the human driver takes necessary actions in case of emergency.

Under the new permit system mandated by the updated law, autonomous driving service providers must submit operating plans to public safety commissions of the prefectural police.

Operators must designate a person to oversee services remotely, set up equipment for visual and aural confirmation of conditions inside and outside autonomous vehicles, examine the location, and implement cybersecurity measures as conditions for permits.

The town of Eiheiji, Fukui prefecture, central Japan, is preparing to apply for a permit soon, local media reported Saturday.

The town plans to operate a transportation service with three seven-seater electric carts that travel on paths for cyclists and pedestrians, with one monitoring official, according to Jiji Press.