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Japan’s bold plan for automated driving

Automation has been on the minds of scientists and inventors since ever. Humans have always looked for ways in which more work could be done with less effort, and this has lead to the rapid rate of progress that we’ve enjoyed in the past century or so.

One major player in this accelerated progress has been the automobile and pretty much ever since the advent of the automobile, people have worked on making one that drives itself.

We’ve talked a bit about automated driving in an earlier post when we talked about the Google car and how it finally got the go-ahead to be tested and driven on public roads. That seems to be a great and major first step towards automated driving, but apparently the current speed at which technology and culture are developing is insufficient for the Japanese and they’re setting up an outline for a nation-wide implementation of an autonomous driving system.

It appears that the Japanese Ministry of Land, infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has started to draw up a plan of making automated driving a reality nation-wide, by 2020.

They’re really serious about it considering that the Ministry plans to immediately look into the various problems related to automated driving and create an interim report which is due in March of 2013. It is expected that this report will include things like driver attentiveness, manual override ability, accident handling and general infrastructure development.

The Ministry has already started to bring in major Japanese car-makers such as Toyota, Nissan, Honda and Mazda , under the leadership of Yasuo Asakura, professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.

This is of course just an idea at the moment. It remains to be seen what will come out of it, but if something serious does come out of it, it should considerably accelerate the time-frame that the automotive industry has set for automated cars.

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