The police considers that fully ensuring the technical safety of automated driving will contribute to reducing traffic accidents caused by drivers' errors and to alleviating traffic congestion. The police is actively proceeding with efforts to support its progress toward the early deployment of automated driving systems (ADS) in accordance with Japan's road environment.
Revised Road Traffic Act (Related to Automated Driving)
The Act for Partial Amendment of the Road Traffic Act passed the Diet in its 198th session in May 2019. The Act includes provisions for the obligations of drivers who use Automated Operational Devices, such as keeping the data recorded by Operational State Recording Devices. This revised Road Traffic Act, coupled with the revised Act on Vehicles for Road Transportation, provides the regulations for safe driving of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) Level 3 automated vehicles.
The provisions on automated driving took effect in April 2020.
Caution from the National Police Agency
1 Regarding automated driving assistance systems (ADAS)
To date, there have been accidents caused by drivers' overestimation or misuse of systems both domestically and internationally. These accidents include cases of collisions with vehicles in front where drivers overestimated or misused collision damage mitigation braking systems (CDMBS) and adaptive cruise control (ACC) systems. Therefore, drivers need to understand their performance correctly.
Moreover, they need to understand that automated driving assistance systems (ADAS) are different from automated driving systems (ADS) in the assumptions, including the obligations of the driver. Drivers using ADAS still have all responsibilities for driving, so they are required to drive safely by constantly checking the conditions in front of and around them.
2 Regarding Automated Driving
In so-called Level 3 automated driving, which has been allowed on public roads in practice since April 2020, drivers are required to take over driving immediately and properly from automated operational devices, in the event that, for example, the conditions for use of such devices set by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism are not met. In such case, drivers need to respond properly.
Therefore, it is essential that drivers have a correct understanding of conditions for use, the abilities of the systems, and points of note in driving for each type of automated driving device, so that they can respond properly to requests from the devices to take over.
The National Police Agency has considered various issues, including a legal system toward the realization of automated driving, since October 2015.
Tests on Public Roads
Guidelines for Public Road Testing of Automated Driving Systems
The National Police Agency formulated and published the Guidelines for Tests of the Automated Driving System on Public Roads.
The Guidelines stipulate that tests can be conducted on public roads without a specific permission or notification under certain conditions; for example, that the driver in the driver's seat of a test vehicle can conduct necessary operations in the event of an emergency or other problem.
Tests on public roads have been conducted by a variety of business entities in various parts of Japan, with reference to the Guidelines.
Criteria for Granting Permission for Road Use in Demonstration Tests of Automated Driving on Public Roads
The National Police Agency formulated and published the Criteria for Granting Permission for Use in Tests of Automated Driving on Public Roads and revised them in September 2020.
The Criteria cover the tests of the remotely-controlled automated driving system and specially-equipped motor vehicles that are operated with special devices other than ordinary wheel and brakes when driven manually on public roads.
To date, tests of the remotely-controlled automated driving system on public roads have been conducted in many prefectures, while tests of specially-equipped motor vehicles have been performed in many prefectures.
Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP)
Toward the commercialization of the automated driving system, the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation (CSTI) in the Cabinet Office has promoted a lot of industry-government-academia collaborations through the Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP).
For more details, see below. (SIP HP)