SoftBank Corp revealed it began conducting autonomous driving field trials in Tokyo in January, with a focus on AI remote monitoring and in-vehicle operations ahead of Japan legalising Level 4 autonomy next month.

The operator explained it is developing an AI-powered remote monitoring system which can automatically acquire and edit information.

It is conducting verification tests using this AI system with the goal of “early implementation of a highly sustainable autonomous driving service”.

SoftBank is also working on an in-vehicle operation support system incorporating multiple functions including analysing the in-vehicle environment using sensing technology.

The company noted a forthcoming amendment of Japan’s Road Traffic Act will allow fully-automated vehicles to operate on public roads, with supervisors to handle operations and emergency responses when driving under specific conditions.

SoftBank employed an autonomous driving system from US-based specialist May Mobility in its trial. The pair plan to employ the data gathered to develop and verify the technical requirements necessary for autonomous driving operation management.