The Summer Olympics of 2020 will be a manifestation of autonomous vehicles if Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans are followed accordingly. The Prime Minister is looking forward to a fleet of self-driving taxis, buses, trucks and private vehicles on Tokyo roads and even ferrying the athletes, by the time the world descends on the city.
With an aging population and an economy bouncing in and out of recession, Mr. Abe sees the Olympics as a perfect platform for Japanese companies to spend and innovate. The lack of legal framework for self-driving cars remains a barrier to their roll-out in Canada and the rest of the world, but Abe’s government is working on guidelines to clear a legal path. Tokyo aims to have the necessary legislation passed in 2019.
The last time Japan hosted the Olympics, in 1964, the Games spurred the country forward both economically and socially. That year, the Olympics saw the introduction of Japan’s now-famous Shinkansen bullet train. Legalizing Level-3 cars could be the real breakthrough for 2020.
The one thing to know about Japan is that, if it sets its mind on something, it’ll get it done.
– Stephen Beatty, VP of Toyota.
To support development of autonomous vehicles, the Japanese government is working to create detailed digital maps of the country’s road network, which it hopes to have completed for the Games.