Second-place E37 Shino Watanabe
First-place E40 Kimberley Morgan
2. The Vision: Future Automated Driving (Level 2, 3 and 4) of General Cars
How and when automated driving can be achieved are different between private cars, for which the drivers decide the driving areas and methods, and business cars (transport and logistics services), for which companies can control the driving areas and conditions in defined areas.
Realization of Level 4 requires rapid commercialization starting from simple situations by complementing technologies with legal system and infrastructure from both “technical” and “commercializing” perspectives. Subsequently, it should be expanded to more complicated situations aiming the world's most advanced system. The key to achievement is how performance of the vehicle can exceed the complexity of the driving environment. The complexity of the environment and the performance of hardware and software should be categorized and indexed, whereby the most appropriate areas and required performance for the combinations will be selected to accomplish the goal.
The feasibility and timeframes described herein are for reference purposes only since further legal and technological discussions are necessary.
1) Private Cars
a. Automated Driving on Expressways
Level 2 automation on expressways will be accomplished by 2020, in which acceleration, deceleration and lane changing are allowed although the human driver continues to monitor the car for safety and can take over control at any time. Advanced automated driving including Level 3 will be achieved after 2020.
b. Automated Driving on General Roads
Level 2 driving without turns on main arterial roads including national and major local roads will be accomplished around 2020.
By around 2025, the targeted environment for Level 2 will be expanded to driving with turns on main artery roads and driving without turns on other roads. Additionally, some main artery roads might be developed to realize Level 3 driving without turns where the system takes control and monitors as far as it can continuously operate and accept secondary activities by the human driver. However, in the Level 3, drivers are expected to appropriately respond to the system’s request if it falls into a difficult situation for further operations.
Later on, the targeted roads and vehicles of Level 2 will be expanded to all the roads. Partial introduction of Level 3 in which secondary activities are allowed will also be permitted.
With regard to parking, parking assistance (Level2) will be attained by 2020. By 2020 automated valet parking that meets infrastructure requirements will be developed for the exclusive use. Later, additional functions will be applied to other parking lots in a consecutive manner.
2) Business Cars (Transport and logistics Services)
Around 2020, required infrastructure will be in place in those areas with pressing social needs and in economically viable areas. Along with the reformation of the legal system, the areas of Level 4 will be expanded initially to the level with technically easy-to-implement automotive services and unmanned delivery services at low speeds, and sequentially to the level with automotive services and unmanned delivery services at a speed where mixed traffic with other vehicles are capable in the urban areas that are selected based on business feasibility. Growth in transitional Level 4 areas and numbers will lead to an increase in full launches of the Level 4.
2. Future Plan for General Vehicles’ Autonomous Driving (Level 2, 3 and 4)
When and how autonomous driving will be achieved vary according to the kinds of vehicles: private vehicles or commercial vehicles for transportation and logistics. With private vehicles, the driver is responsible for the driving areas and methods, whereas with commercial vehicles for transportation and logistics, the driver operates vehicles within limited areas where companies can control driving areas and conditions.
In order to achieve Level 4 autonomous driving, we need to work on technology and commercialization. Technology has to be supplemented with systems and infrastructure, and commercialization should be started at simpler business scenes and then expanded to include more complicated situations, aiming to achieve the most advanced autonomous driving level in the world. For that purpose, we will categorize complexity of driving environment and vehicle performance from both hardware and software sides and create indices, and then specify areas and necessary efficiency from among those combinations and improve them towards commercialization, as it is essential to overcome complexity of driving environment by improving vehicle efficiency.
The feasibility and the time schedule of Level 3 and higher autonomous driving is subject to change, as more legal and technological discussions are required.
(1) Private Vehicles
i) Autonomous Driving on Expressways
On expressways, Level 2 autonomous driving, which enables automated acceleration/deceleration and lane changes on condition that the driver observes safety precautions and take control of the vehicle at any time, will be achieved by 2020. More advanced autonomous driving including Level 3 is expected to be in practical use from 2020 onward.
ii) Autonomous Driving on Local Roads
Level 2 autonomous driving on straight major arterial roads such as national highways and major local roads will be achieved around 2020.
The area and the environment designated for Level 2 will be expanded around 2025, including right/left turns on major arterial roads and straight driving on other roads. Furthermore, Level 3 straight driving will possibly be achieved on some major arterial roads eligible for autonomous driving. At Level 3, the automation system operates and monitors vehicles to keep them safe, allowing the driver to engage in some secondary activities, as far as the system can keep operating. However, at this level, the driver needs to respond properly to the system’s request for intervention in those cases where the system fails to keep operating.
Subsequently, Level 2 autonomous driving on all roads, extension of eligible roads and increase of eligible vehicles for Level 3, which allows some secondary activities to drivers, are expected.
Level 2 parking support will be achieved by 2020.
Valet parking at designated parking lots with well-equipped infrastructure should be achieved around 2020. Eventually, autonomous valet parking function is expected to be added to existing parking lots.
(2) Commercial Vehicles for Transportation and Logistics
Level 4 autonomous driving is expected to be achieved around 2020 for low-speed transportation service and driverless delivery service, which is rather easy to achieve technically, in the areas of higher social needs or of easier economic justification, provided with necessary infrastructure and legal systems. Level 4 is also expected to be achieved for transportation service and driverless delivery service at the speed which conforms to business feasibility, operated in the mixed traffic with other vehicles in urban areas. Area of operation is expected to expand gradually by increasing the extent and the number of areas where Level 4 autonomous driving is adopted.
2. A roadmap for the introduction of autonomous driving (levels 2, 3, and 4) of general vehicles
The means and timing of implementing autonomous driving will differ for private vehicles, for which the driver determines where and how the vehicle is driven, and commercial vehicles (used for transportation and distribution), whose driving area and conditions can be controlled within defined limits.
Towards realizing level 4 of autonomous driving, the aim is to become world leading through ongoing improvement of technology systems and infrastructure, both in terms of technology and commercialization, and by progressing from simple realization and commercialization scenarios in the early stages to complex ones. To that end, since the vehicle’s performance needs to surpass the complexity of the driving environment, the complexity of the driving environment and the software and hardware performances will be classified and indexed. Then, based on that combination, the required performance of regions will be determined and realized.
Furthermore, rough milestones are given here for the feasibility and timing of realizing level 3 and above in order to facilitate further discussions about the legal and technological aspects.
(1) Private vehicles
1. Autonomous driving on highways
For highways, by 2020, level 2 will be realized, where the vehicle accelerates, brakes and changes lanes; drivers will monitor the driving to ensure that it is safe, always with the premise that they can take back control of the vehicle at any time. Beyond 2020, it is envisaged to realize a high level of autonomous driving that encompasses level 3.
2. Autonomous driving on general roads
In about 2020, level 2 autonomous driving will be realized on main roads (national highways and main regional roads) for traffic progressing in one direction (i.e., moving forward without turning). In about 2025, level 2 driving environments will spread so that autonomous turning will be realized on main roads while forward-direction driving will be realized on other roads. Further, for specially equipped sections of main roads, and for as long as the system operates continuously, drivers will be permitted to engage in some secondary activities while monitoring that the vehicle is driving safely and taking over control of the vehicle. This will be for forward-direction autonomous driving at level 3. However, drivers for vehicles at level 3 are expected to respond appropriately when system operation is intermittent or the system demands intervention by a human driver.
After that, self-driving vehicles are anticipated to proliferate when level 2 has been realized on all roads and level 3, which permits drivers to engage in secondary activities, has been realized on designated roads.
Regarding parking, assisted parking (level 2) will be realized by 2020. Around 2020, autonomous valet parking will be realized around 2020 in private car parks that have the necessary equipment installed. Next, it is envisaged that autonomous valet parking will become increasingly available at general car parks.
(2) Commercial vehicles (for transportation and distribution)
In about 2020, the necessary infrastructure will be installed in regions where there are strong social needs and it is easy to realize economic benefits, and in conjunction with framing legislation, it is envisaged to realize low-speed transportation and driverless home delivery services (level 4), which is relatively easy to achieve in terms of technology. Factoring in the establishment of businesses, level 4 services that can mix with other vehicles in urban areas such as low-speed transportation and driverless home delivery services will be realized. It is then envisaged that as both the number and the size of areas equipped with level 4 technology increase, the regions in which autonomous driving is introduced will expand.
2. Future vision for autonomous driving (levels 2, 3, and 4) of general cars
How and when autonomous driving will be implemented are different11 between private cars whose driving areas and methods are dependent on drivers and business-use cars (e.g., for transportation and logistics services) whose driving areas and circumstances can be controlled by companies and that are used only in restricted areas.
In order to achieve level 4 autonomy, it is required to aim to be at the forefront in terms of both technology and commercialization by supplementing the technology with systems and infrastructure and by actually implementing and commercializing the capabilities at the early stage in simple situations and expanding the usage to complicated situations. In this regard, because how cars’ performance overcomes the complexity of driving circumstances is important, the complexity of driving circumstances and hardware/software performance are categorized into patterns to serve as metrics, and combinations of patterns are used to specify the areas and the required level of performance for implementing the capabilities.
Note that the feasibility of autonomous driving of level 3 or more and when it is expected to be achieved are only an estimate12 because further discussions are necessary from legal and technological perspectives.
(1) Private cars
 Autonomous driving on expressways
On expressways, level 2 autonomy in which car acceleration and deceleration as well as lane changes are possible will be implemented by 2020 on the assumption that drivers will monitor driving activities to ensure safety and will be able to take the wheel at any time. It is anticipated that advanced autonomous driving of higher levels, including level 3, will be achieved in 2020 or subsequent years.
 Autonomous driving on public roads
In around 2020, level 2 autonomy in which straight-line driving is automated will be implemented on major highways (national highways and major local roads).
In approximately 2025, the range of circumstances subject to level 2 autonomy will expand so that it will be possible to autonomously make left and right turns on major highways and drive in a straight line on other roads, for example. In addition, on some well-maintained major highways, the systems will monitor driving activities to ensure safety and will perform driving operation as long as the systems can continue operation, thus possibly realizing level 3 autonomy in which autonomous straight-line driving can be implemented while drivers are allowed to conduct some of secondary activities13. However, in level 3 autonomy, drivers are expected to respond appropriately to intervention requests from the systems when it is difficult for the systems to continue operation.
Subsequently, it is anticipated that level 2 autonomy will be implemented on all roads and that more roads and cars will become subject to level 3 autonomy in which some of secondary activities can be conducted. Concerning parking, parking assistance (level 2) will be implemented by 2020.
There is a prospect that valet parking will be realized in private parking equipped with good infrastructure and that the auto valet parking function will be used in public parking incrementally.
(2) Business-use cars (for transportation and logistics services)
In around 2020, by developing infrastructure specifically required for the areas with a huge social demand for autonomous driving and the areas where making autonomous driving economical is easy, it is anticipated that level 4 autonomous driving for transportation services, unmanned delivery, etc. will be implemented both at a low speed relatively easy to reach from a technological perspective and at a speed compatible with other cars in heavy traffic in urban areas from a business feasibility perspective, in accordance with the development of the legal system. Therefore, the expansion of the areas where level 4 autonomy is introduced looks promising as the applicable areas expand and the number of these areas increases.
2. The future of autonomous driving for general vehicles (levels 2, 3, and 4)
The means and timeframe by which autonomous driving is expected to be achieved differ11 for household vehicles where the driving area and method are left to the driver, and commercial vehicles (used in transport and logistics) that operate in a limited area in which companies can control the driving area and conditions.
Developers need to aim for world-class cutting-edge technologies to achieve level 4 autonomous driving. They should consider autonomous driving from both a technological and commercial perspective and develop it starting from simple scenarios, supplementing technology and systems as things progress. They should then implement and commercialize autonomous driving at an early stage and go on to expand the technology to more complex scenarios. The extent to which vehicle performance exceeds the complexity of driving environments is an important factor in achieving autonomous driving. Developers should therefore classify and index the complexity of driving environments as well as performance of hardware and software. They should then use a combination of these elements to select regions to implement autonomous driving, define the necessary performance, and set about achieving it.
The feasibility and timeframe for level 3 autonomous driving and above require further legal and technical discussion. The forecasts here should therefore be considered a general guideline12.
(1) Household vehicles
1) Autonomous driving on expressways
Level 2 autonomous driving will be achieved on expressways by 2020. At this level, autonomous acceleration/deceleration and lane changing are possible, given that drivers supervise driving safety and are always able to carry out driving tasks. Level 3 autonomous driving and other advanced autonomous driving tasks are expected to be achieved post-2020.
2) Autonomous driving on public roads
Level 2 autonomous driving will be achieved for straight driving on major roads (national highways and main regional roads) around 2020.
Around 2025, there will be more applications available for level 2, such as autonomous turning on major roads and autonomous straight driving on other roads. In addition, level 3 for straight driving could be achieved on some well-developed major roads. At this level, as long as uninterrupted system operation is possible, the system supervises driving safety and carries out driving tasks, and the driver is allowed to carry out some secondary activities13. However, the driver is still expected to respond appropriately to requests for intervention from the system when it is difficult to secure uninterrupted system operation.
Following this, it is forecast that level 2 will be achieved on all roads and that level 3 allowing for some secondary activities will become available for more roads and vehicles.
Level 2 parking assistance will be achieved by 2020. Around 2020, it is expected that autonomous valet parking will be possible in dedicated parking lots with the necessary infrastructure. It is forecast that autonomous valet parking functionality will then expand to general parking lots.
(2) Commercial vehicles (for use in transport and logistics)
Around 2020, certain level 4 services are expected to be achieved in regions with strong social demand and regions where it is easy to secure profitability by equipping these regions with the required infrastructure and legal systems. These include level 4 services that are comparatively easy to implement technologically, such as low-speed transport services and unmanned delivery services. Level 4 transport services and unmanned delivery services that run at speeds that allow them to run in mixed traffic with other cars are also expected to be made available upon consideration of their commercial viability. It is forecast that an increase in the area and number of regions where level 4 is possible will lead to more regions where these services are offered.