The spread of self-driving vehicles is indispensable for going to smart cities. There are many opinions that the regulations are strict in Japan, but experiments are currently being conducted in various places. Due to the aging population and declining population, it is overwhelmingly needed worldwide. This time, I would like to introduce an article about the spread of autonomous driving in Japan.
"Japan is behind in autonomous driving due to strict regulations" is rather the opposite.
It is sometimes said that "Japan is behind in the practical application of autonomous driving due to strict regulations." However, car journalist Kazuo Shimizu said, "The reality is exactly the opposite. Honda's new legend has a'level 3'autonomous driving function, which is proof that Japan is leading the world."
■ You can leave the driving to the car when the highway is congested
The long-awaited self-driving car has been officially approved. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism announced on November 11 that Honda's luxury car "Legend" equipped with a "level 3" automatic driving device has been given the type approval necessary for mass production and sales. It may be the moment when a long-standing dream came true for an automobile engineer. Collision damage mitigation brakes and lane departure prevention support that are realized in current commercial vehicles are such that the driver is the main driver and the system covers inadvertent human mistakes (so-called "level 2"). However, Honda's system approved this time goes one step further, and even under specific conditions, the system takes the initiative in monitoring the situation and operating autonomously. In that sense, it can be said to open up the first step in full-scale "autonomous driving." It will take some time to realize autonomous driving on general roads with complicated mixed traffic, but it was thought that it would be possible relatively early on expressways. The new Legend system, which has received format certification this time, is equipped with a high-precision map (called a dynamic map) dedicated to autonomous driving, and starts operating at speeds when there is congestion on the highway (starting at less than 30 km / h). It is possible, and it is approved for automatic driving only when the speed exceeds 50 km / h). The author has been a member of the SIP (Strategic Innovation Creation Program) autonomous driving system project sponsored by the Cabinet Office since 2014. From that point of view, many reports related to self-driving cars are over-expected, or stereotyped claims that "Japan is not able to put into practical use self-driving cars due to strict regulations" (reality). Is the exact opposite). In this article, I would like to report on the current location of autonomous driving in an easy-to-understand manner while organizing the facts.
■ The future of autonomous driving, which is also responsible for solving social problems
The initial goal of the SIP autonomous driving system project was the practical application of autonomous driving of passenger cars. However, from around 2016, the idea of MaaS (Editor's Note: Mobility as a Service, a concept that seamlessly connects various means of transportation using information and communication technology and provides / uses movement as a "service") becomes a hot topic. Expectations for automation of mobility (transportation / transportation means) other than passenger cars have also increased. For example, it can be expected to automate the means of transportation for people who are said to be vulnerable to traffic, such as the elderly and children in rural areas, and trucks that carry goods, so it will be responsible for solving social issues such as improving safety and responding to human resource shortages. The role has come to be desired. In addition, the delivery robot that carries foodstuffs, etc. attracted attention in Corona. The appearance of a robot, which is smaller than an electric wheelchair, carrying things unattended is truly futuristic. Various mobility driven by AI, making full use of sensors and computers, will be an indispensable technology for society in the future.
■ Definition of the level of autonomous driving
Here, we will explain in detail the automatic driving of passenger cars that have been officially licensed by the authorities. When talking about autonomous driving, a six-level definition of levels 0 to 5 is used, but this is defined by the American Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan "SAE International" and does not represent the superiority or inferiority of automobile functions or products. Briefly, ---------- ・ Level 0 is the one without automation of acceleration, deceleration, and steering (yes). -Level 1 automates acceleration and deceleration (automatic braking and cruise control).・ Level 2 is the addition of automated steering wheel operation, and the driver is obliged to monitor ahead. ・ Level 3 is partially automatic driving, and the conditions such as speed, weather, and various sensors are the system operation design area (ODD). ), The driver will drive.・ Even if level 4 is out of the conditions, the system alone will ensure safety.・ Level 5 is unconditional fully automatic operation. ---------- What is important here is the "driving support system" in which the driver is obliged to watch ahead up to level 2 (the driver is responsible for driving as in normal driving), which is true. In this sense, what can be called automatic driving (the system bears the responsibility for driving) is that it is a system of level 3 or higher. However, at level 3, driving responsibility goes back and forth between the system and people depending on the driving conditions, so at this stage it may be understood as "partially automatic driving".
■ Is there an obligation to monitor ahead?
Even the level 2 driving support device that is already on the market has functions such as partially automatically operating the steering wheel and following the vehicle in front while maintaining the lane. Depending on the car, it is possible to drive without letting go, and many people often mistake this for "autonomous driving." But no matter how sophisticated it is, in a Level 2 system, the driver is obliged to keep a close eye on the front and respond quickly in the event of an emergency. It is dangerous to be overconfident. In fact, traffic accidents caused by overconfidence in Level 2 equivalent systems are often reported in the United States, so the SAE definition states that "Level 2 is not called autonomous driving." ..
■ Legal development required for Level 3 driving
Then, what kind of system revision was necessary to achieve Level 3? In fact, there are major differences between Levels 2 and 3 in terms of the technical and required legal system. Let's start with the legal system. In order to realize autonomous driving, it is necessary to revise the "Road Transport Vehicle Law" that stipulates technical standards for automobiles and the "Road Traffic Law" that stipulates driver obligations. This is because autonomous driving was not envisioned at all when these two laws were enacted. The Road Transport Vehicle Law stipulates technical standards for automobile safety and environmental protection called "safety standards", and passenger cars that do not meet these standards cannot drive on public roads. Before the revision, the safety standards did not provide for autonomous driving technology in which humans delegate driving responsibility to the system. In other words, it was illegal to drive Level 3 or higher on public roads. Similarly, the Road Traffic Act does not have provisions for autonomous driving, and various obligations for safe driving were stipulated on the premise that humans would drive.
■ Japanese law revision will be realized in 2019
These two laws were revised one after another in 2019. In the revision of the Road Transport Vehicle Law of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the automatic operation device was added to the devices subject to the safety standards, and the provisions for system maintenance and program updates were also established. In addition, in the revision of the Road Traffic Law under the jurisdiction of the Police Agency, automatic driving operated by the system will be included in the concept of "driving", and the system will operate within the operation design area for level 3 autonomous vehicles. During that time, the driver's forward monitoring obligation was exempted. At the same time, it clarifies the duty of safe driving for drivers during autonomous driving, and clarifies that there is also a duty to rescue victims in the event of an accident. In addition, both laws require the storage of data that records the operating status of the operating system. On the other hand, I am wondering what the responsibility will be in the event of an accident caused by an autonomous vehicle. Insurance for victim relief is paid under the current law, but how should the laws such as the Automobile Damage Compensation Law, the Product Liability Law, the Civil Code, the Punishment Law for Driving Injuries, and the Criminal Law be applied or amended? Is it? Further discussion may be needed, at least with regard to criminal law.
■ Actively participate in international discussions
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has enthusiastically participated in discussions at the United Nations-led multilateral conference, the World Forum for Harmonization of Automotive Standards (WP29). The Japanese government has led the discussion in formulating the new standard of autonomous driving, even with the post of co-chair, but it cannot be overlooked that the background was the cooperation of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan. The enforcement of the international standards discussed at WP29 is scheduled for January 2021. Internationally, the practical application of autonomous driving required amendments to the Geneva Road Transport Convention enacted in 1949, and the amendment was adopted in 2015. On the other hand, in Japan, the outline of legal system development was formulated in 2018, and the revised Vehicle Transportation Law and the revised Road Traffic Law were passed and promulgated in 2019, and officially came into effect on April 1, 2020. Japan's amendment to autonomous driving-related laws is not slow, but rather leads the world.
■ Level 3 Technical level required for autonomous driving
What kind of advanced technology will be installed in a car certified at Level 3? First, a high-precision 3D map called a "dynamic map" is required. Vehicle sensors and high-precision maps are essential, as technologies such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) will no longer work in tunnels and mountain roads. In addition, when the system deviates from the operation design area where autonomous driving is possible, the system promptly asks the driver to take over the driving, but when the driving is not changed, "minimum risk maneuver (minimum safety)". The function causes the vehicle to stop automatically and safely after 10 seconds. Ensuring system redundancy is also an important issue. For example, the power should not be lost and the system should not stop functioning while the steering wheel is being operated automatically. Safety design such as duplication of power supply and various sensors is required. In addition, a system that monitors the driver to see if the driver can take over the driving at any time is also indispensable.
■ Specific benefits for users
Finally, I would like to consider what kind of benefits there are in level 3 autonomous driving. In the case of Honda Legend, which received the type approval this time, the risk of rear-end collision during traffic jams on the highway will be greatly reduced. By automatically accelerating and decelerating at the optimum timing while always maintaining the optimum distance between vehicles, it seems that it can contribute to alleviating traffic congestion. Of course, driver fatigue can also be reduced, and smartphones and in-vehicle TVs can be used during autonomous driving. It may seem that this is the only merit, but when you go out of the level 3 operation design area, you can automatically use the advanced level 2 driving support functions such as following the vehicle in front, maintaining the lane, and automatic braking. Driving assistance using a high-precision map will be convenient. Personally, I think that if a long-distance truck is equipped with Level 3, the driver will be very pleased. The Legend equipped with the Level 3 system was officially certified on November 11, but details have not been announced because it is not an official product announcement for Honda. However, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has been leading the world in law revisions and discussions at WP29, and is actively disclosing information as "the world's first certification."
■ For turning points that will be remembered in posterity
The author has participated in SIP discussions for the past seven years, but what the Japanese automobile industry now needs is to be ahead of the curve-making and technological development in advanced technologies such as autonomous driving. That is also the significance of an all-Japan development system such as SIP. Furthermore, technological evolution alone is not enough to implement autonomous driving technology in society. While drawing a vision of future mobility that should be aimed at, "what kind of positive value can be provided to actual users" and "how to obtain social consensus on necessary costs and legal and ethical aspects". Consideration of "social acceptability" is extremely important.