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Report: Japan to get self-driving cars by 2020

Japan’s roads will see the arrival of self-driving cars in 2017 according to a government source.

The Japanese Government is expected to ease regulations on self-driving cars to encourage companies to start testing ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games.

As Reuters reports, the aim is to provide the cars for use during the Tokyo Games.

The measures will be made official at a meeting between cabinet ministers and private companies on Thursday.

Japanese-based companies Nissan and Toyota are both working on self-driving cars.

Last month Toyota introduced reporters to a modified Lexus GX sedan with the ability to join public Tokyo expressways, switch lanes, and self-steer onto exit ramps.

But concerns have been raised about putting self-driving cars on the road too early as any accident could halt technological advancement in the area for some time.

Tesla recently rolled out a firmware update for its Model S cars which added an autopilot feature that allowed the car to steer, match traffic speed or the speed limit, and change lanes.

But as the video below shows, the update doesn’t exactly usher in the age of the self-driving car so much as increase concerns about it.


Related: Flying a drone: everything you need to know

Eased restrictions on small drones are also expected to be announced on Thursday according to the report.

The move will be part of an effort by the Japanese government to spur innovation in the private sector.

After a small drone containing radioactive material landed on the roof of the Prime Minister’s office in April, the lower house of the Japanese Parliament passed a new law to further restrict drone flights.

The revised Civil Aeronautics Law prohibits flying drones over the prime minister’s office, the Imperial Palace and nuclear plants.      

It is also illegal to fly drones over a crowded area, near airports, or during nighttime hours without government permission.

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