TOKYO — The Cabinet on Friday approved rules for operating partially self-driving vehicles, paving the way for the use of Level 3 autonomous vehicles on public roads.
The government plans to enforce an ordinance defining violations and setting penalties by May next year as it envisions the use of Level 3 vehicles, which allow conditionally automated driving, on expressways in 2020.
Violators of the ordinance will face fines ranging up to 12,000 yen ($110) depending on vehicle size.
Under the country’s revised traffic law, vehicles with autonomous features must be equipped with travel data recorders for analysis of traffic accidents.
Autonomous driving technology is classified into five levels, ranging from Level 1 that allows either steering, acceleration or braking to be automated to fully automated Level 5.
Currently, the government envisages the use of Level 3 autonomous features during traffic jams on expressways so that drivers can watch television or operate smartphones as long as they can manually override the system at any moment.
The ordinance will ban the use of vehicles with poorly maintained self-driving systems and those without properly functioning data recorders.
Automakers will be required to obtain government approval for the specific operational conditions of their self-driving vehicles, including weather and road conditions, driving times and speed.