Fully autonomous vehicles on the road in central Japan

Fully self-driving vehicles have hit the road in a town in central Japan. They are the first ones allowed to run on a public road in the country.

Under a law revised in April, so-called Level-4 driverless vehicles can operate on limited routes at restricted speeds.

The passenger transport service was launched in Fukui Prefecture. Industry minister Nishimura Yasutoshi took a test ride.

The driverless electric cart traveled a roughly two-kilometer route trouble-free in around 10 minutes.
The service operator can run them at up to 12 kilometers per hour.

It previously offered a service with Level-3 autonomous vehicles. These allow for humans to take over in emergencies.

Nishimura said, "Regional communities face declining birthrates, an aging society and depopulation. We aim to provide technology to address such problems and lead the world in self-driving development."

The Japanese government hopes to see fully autonomous driving services launched in about 50 locations by around fiscal 2025.