Realizing that traditional approaches for Intelligent Transport Systems may be outdated, the Japanese transport ministry has announced an initiative for an ‘autopilot’ driverless system which will be operated on highways. A first demonstration is planned for 2013; the whole system should be operational by 2020.The initiative will start with an expert forum on June 27 consisting of researchers and industry representatives (including Toyota, Honda, Nissan).
The autopilot system will operate within private cars. These cars will be driven manually on standard roads. Once the car reaches the highway, the autopilot can be activated. This will reduce accidents on the highway and reduce traffic jams. Still in the tradition of ITS, the ministry envisions that highways will need to be equipped with technology supporting the autopilot mode. This may include systems for controlling the traffic flow at on-ramps and in traffic jams.
Accelerating the pace of development for driverless technology is an excellent fit for the Japanese industry which already is a world leader in robotics technology.