Level 4 framework will bolster Japan position in global autonomous vehicle market, says GlobalData

Following the news that Japan’s National Police Agency aims to create legal framework for level 4 self-driving cars within limited areas;

Bakar Sadik Agwan, Senior Automotive Consulting Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“Japan became the first country to approve a level 3 autonomous system for Honda Legend sedan in March 2021, and subsequently the development paved the way for similar such systems. Currently, level 4 tests are underway in the country and a legal recommendation was published by the National Police Agency in April 2021. If approved, it will lead to the commercialization of level 4 self-driving cars in shared mobility, where vehicles can operate without human interaction.

“The development is in line with the government’s vision to put level 4 automated driving system to practical use across more than 40 locations by 2025. GlobalData expects level 4 autonomous vehicle market penetration to surpass level 3 and reach over 1% by 2030, unlike level 3, which is expected to remain at a penetration of less than 0.5% by the same period. This is because level 3 sits at an awkward point where the system’s complexity is so high that the cost makes it less tempting for deployment across mass-market vehicles. In addition, it lacks the utility of level 4 and above systems that are more applicable to robo-taxi fleets. Nevertheless, Honda became the first OEM to take the plunge in March 2021, gaining approval to sell a small number of level-3-equipped Legend luxury sedans exclusively for the Japanese market.

“Autonomous vehicles are gaining regulatory approvals across the world’s key urban areas for commercial use. Shared mobility is the most significant driver for AVs and is the epicenter of the megatrend. Waymo already has regulatory approvals. It introduced a ride hailing fleet with its Level 4 vehicles and offers 20,000 to 40,000 rides a quarter in the US. In China, after AutoX which received approval in January 2021, Baidu and Pony.ai have also won approval to run commercial driverless ride hailing services in Beijing with fleet of not more than 100 level 4 AVs. Germany is also set to legalize the commercial use of Level 4 AVs as taxis by 2022. Timely approval for level 4 autonomy will help Japan to be in the race with market leaders such as the US, China and Europe.”

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