tech

JR East to test driverless train on Yamanote Line

9 Comments

East Japan Railway Co (JR East) plans to test a self-driving train on the Yamanote Line during the year-end and New Year holidays. The tests will be conducted, using the latest Yamanote Line E235 series train, after the last service on Dec 29 and 30, as well as on Jan 5 and 6.

The self-driving trains will run along the entire Yamanote loop line at a speed of 34.5 kilometers per hour in order to check the vehicle’s control functions, which encompasses acceleration, deceleration, and passengers’ riding comfort, Fuji TV reported. 

JR East said it is currently developing a high-performance automatic train operation (ATO) that controls all phases of train operations, such as responding to train delays and sudden speed limitations. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MLIT) is also considering to review the current standards of train driving licenses in an effort to further develop automatic driving in the future. 

At a press conference this week, JR East President Yuji Fukasawa pointed out obstacles such as ensuring the safety of commuters on the train platforms and railroad tracks. According to the current regulations, driverless trains are limited to railway routes that have an elevated structure to prohibit people from entering the tracks or stations where “smart door” safety gates are installed.

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9 Comments
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came sooner than I expected but its the natural result of having these barriers on the platform

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So who do we blame when the train jumps the track?

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Japan is lgging behind in this concept

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It will be driverless, but the conductor will be in the cab with hands on the controls as per union regulations.

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The SkyTrain commuter rail system in Vancouver has been fully automated and driverless since 1986. It is now about 80km long, compared to the 35km length of the Yamanote Line... but better late than never!

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Kozuki : We have had a driverless train to Odaiba for over 5 years now , Japanese technology is just making it better with the next gerneration of trains . Obviously some of you who critisize everything Japanese , have either not been here or just like to bitch !! I seldom comment because half of the comments I read are mindless , and to reply to such idiots is a waste of my time , and yes , I know it runs on rubber tires . How many Shinkansens do you have ? Over 50 years without incident .

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We have had a driverless train to Odaiba for over 5 years now

I think the world's first driverless train was the Port Island Line in Kobe (opened in 1981). The Nanko Port Line (New Tram) in Osaka also opened in 1981, I think. Tokyo is always behind the times. :-)

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Japan is lgging behind in this concept

There have been driverless trains in Japan for a very long time already, but as with every other country that has them, they run on newly built lines that were specifically designed for driverless trains. That's vastly easier than applying driverless trains to existing lines; and at the same time, building new lines in crowded cities that are already saturated with railways and subway lines is a completely different problem, not particularly related to technology, but to cost, land acquisition, and practicality.

When considering whether to go driverless, one important question has to be, why is driverless preferred in the first place?

And concerning the Yamanote line, it is one of the world's busiest lines - around 10 times the daily ridership of the Vancouver SkyTrain that someone mentioned above, for about half the length of line; that may present its own challenges to driverless technology. It's not clear that turning that particular line driverless is even an intended goal. For testing though, it is very handily in the form of a bidirectional loop.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Today I saw the driver of the train wearing a white paper mask. May as well have been an artificial human.

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