A self-driving vehicle goes on a test run in Kota, Aichi prefecture, central Japan, on Thursday. (Kyodo photo)
NAGOYA: Japan’s first test of a remote-controlled driverless vehicle on a public road was held on Thursday in Aichi prefecture, home to Toyota Motor Corp and other auto companies.
In the test conducted by the central Japan prefectural government, the driverless minivan travelled along a road in the town of Kota. It had previously memorised the 700-metre-long route and traffic signs along the way.
With its onboard cameras and radar monitoring the road for vehicles and pedestrians, the minivan briefly stopped at a crossing where reporters and photographers had gathered, before continuing along the route at under 15 kilometres per hour.
A member of the test team operated the minivan remotely from the Kota community hall near the test course, monitoring footage transmitted by the onboard camera, while an assistant in the passenger seat was on hand to stop the car in case of emergency.
Aichi governor Hideaki Omura said after taking a test ride, “The steering wheel rotated very smoothly. I felt like I was experiencing the technology of the near future.”
The prefectural government aims to promote development of autonomous driving vehicles by Aichi-based auto industry firms and plans more tests by March in Nagoya and other locations. It expects that technological developments will lead to the introduction of driverless taxis in the future.
The driverless car tests on public roads became possible after the National Police Agency revised traffic rules in June.