Japan Taking A Pragmatic Approach To Autonomous Technology

U.S. automakers and technology companies are engaging in an all-out war to bring autonomous technologies to the roads as soon as possible. In Japan, however, things are very different.

Whereas American brands are publicizing every tiny detail of their self-driving programs, those in Japan are keeping their cards closer to their chests. According to Forbes, this isn’t because Japan’s technology is lagging behind but rather because local firms are adopting a go-to-market strategy.

According to co-founder of AI company Preferred Networks, Daisuke Okanohara, road-testing of autonomous technology, as is common in the United States, is just as much about marketing as it is technological development.

“I don’t think there are significant differences in the state of autonomous car development between Japan and U.S., but each has a different attitude on how to realize their vision.

“For example, in Japan we have a rapidly aging population. A lot of elderly people rely on cars for transportation, and we’re seeing an increasing number of tragic traffic accidents caused by elderly drivers.

“Since this is an important part of the demand for autonomous vehicles and advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), Japanese companies naturally place a great importance on demonstrating safety and reliability,” Okanohara revealed.

The U.S. has more relaxed on-road testing laws

By comparison, U.S. automakers are targeting a younger audience, particularly those concerned with innovation.

The differences don’t stop here. Whereas many in the U.S. believe the widespread adoption of autonomous technology will come through driverless taxi fleets, those in Japan have other priorities.

“Autonomous taxis get a lot of attention, but they will not be a practical for a while… The first widespread commercial use we will see will be autonomous bus services in rural areas,” chief executive of Softbank’s driverless vehicle subsidiary Yuki Saji said.

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  • SMART GOING AFTER THE RIGHT AUDIENCE. HERE IN THE US WE HAVE YAHOO’S ENGAGING AUTOPILOT AND CLIMBING IN THE BACK SEAT.

    AUTONOMOUS CAN BE VERY HELPFUL TO THE ELDERLY ONCE THE KINKS ARE WORKED OUT.

    • Moveon Libtards

      Tesla driver’s for you. They aren’t the brightest people.

      All CAPS a desperate sign for attention?

  • Moveon Libtards

    It is also because Japanese software is pretty bad in everything from home appliances and cars too. Just hasnt been emphasized in their schools until recently and doesnt fit their cultural style, something that would take too long to explain here. There is a reason that Japan imports most of its IT workers from other countries even when the ability to work in Japan is extremely limited for non-Japanese.

    However, the Japanese like to copy others and are utilizing their foreign workforce and strategic alliances to attain autonomous driving. Might not be made by the Japanese, but it will come under Japanese companies.

  • Six_Tymes

    I would love to know what Okanohara thinks of the UBer accident that recently occurred, where that poor lady got run over by their testing van. Such a horrible way to die.

    • BlackPegasus

      Oh, that accident with the homeless lady who walked right in front of the car at night with no reflective clothing on?

      • Galaxium

        While she shouldn’t have done that, the reason why people are freaking out is because the sensors should have detected the body, despite it being a low-light setting.

      • Dennis James

        This shows how lame the current driverless technology is. So do we have to provide it light to detect obstacles ? What about radars, lidars ? If the new technology sensors are as flawed as human senses, just don’t bother with it.

        • BlackPegasus

          If someone just steps in front of a moving vehicle that weighs 1-2 tons even the most advance technology will probably fail at stopping in time. Nor would any human driver.

      • Andrew Riles

        The idea of the radar, lidar etc sensors is that they operate outside the visible spectrum of both the human eye and the camera(s) fitted to the vehicle, meaning that low light or a lack of reflective clothing is not an excuse for the car not at least seeing the pedestrian and taking some form of evasive action…whether or not the accident is avoidable is another matter, but for me the most concerning thing about this incident and the two fatalities involving Teslas on Autopilot is that no action was taken to avoid or at least reduce the severity of the accident….

    • Eythan Aldrich

      testing van…..you mean suv? volvo don’t have vans recently

  • scalextric

    Autopilot – if you are an elderly person incapable of driving safely. So S3XY!

  • CJKnox

    Given their thorough approach to their cars, I trust the Japanese approach to autonomous tech more than any other.