Tokyo, JP is preparing

As one of the world’s largest, wealthiest, and most technologically-advanced cities, all eyes are on Tokyo in anticipation of what is expected to be a major demonstration of autonomous vehicles during the 2020 Summer Olympic Games. With more than 30 million visitors expected, a city long known for its pristine taxis and tuxedoed drivers faces a rapidly aging and shrinking workforce. At least one Tokyo taxi company, Hinomaru Kotsu, has announced a partnership to deploy AV technology within some portion of its 600-plus vehicle fleet.

To speed deployment of AVs, Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government has created a Self-Driving Technology Center to streamline issuance of test permits for corporations. Nissan, which recently demonstrated a new AV sedan during a 12-mile test ride on Tokyo highways, “hopes to roll out the new tech in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.” (link)

Meanwhile, the Japanese national government has organized a number of efforts to roll out AV mobility services at the 2020 Games. Already underway is a massive road surveying effort, which began almost as soon as the Rio games concluded in 2016. These base maps will cover more than 18,600 miles of expressways and 789,000 miles of roads nationwide, at a cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and support development of Olympic-related services as well as the broader AV industry. SIP-adus, a cross-ministry R&D effort, has developed an autonomous transit planning framework dubbed Advanced Rapid Transit which outlines a highly-automated bus rapid transit scheme focused on mobility needs of the country’s aging population.

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