Japan to Roll Out Traffic Laws for Delivery Robots

The new laws, permitting autonomous robots to navigate the streets of Japan, are set to take hold in April

Scarlett Evans, Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

February 13, 2023

1 Min Read

In April, Japan is set to introduce new traffic laws to allow self-driving delivery robots easier access to public roads across the country.

The new laws are hoped to particularly aid elderly people living in remote areas by increasing their access to food, as well as meet ongoing labor shortages in the country by stepping in for currently short-staffed delivery drivers.

Under the new laws, human monitoring and control will be enforced before the robots are given full autonomy, with these human workers intervening in instances of robots getting stuck or colliding with obstacles. The regulations have also set a maximum speed of 4 miles per hour for delivery robots, to limit the chances of collision or injury. 

Trials of delivery robots have already been conducted in Tokyo, with the autonomous robots delivering both food and other daily necessities in residential and business districts. 

With continued high demand for e-commerce in the wake of the pandemic, as well as staff shortages in the service industry, autonomous delivery robots have emerged as a potential means of connecting customers with goods while maintaining contactless delivery. The new regulations are also in keeping with government efforts to revitalize regional economies with digitalization tools and to connect isolated communities with necessary goods.

Japan already boasts several autonomous robot designs, including DeliRo from ZMP, as well as Panasonic’s Hakobo robot which is being trialed in Tokyo and Fujisawa. The Japan Post has also been testing its mail delivery robot since 2020, with the new laws paving the way for this small-scale robot to be launched commercially. 

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About the Author(s)

Scarlett Evans

Assistant Editor, IoT World Today

Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.

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