Tier IV, a developer of open-source autonomous driving (AD) technology, has been selected for a project aimed at demonstrating AD technology for regional public transportation.

This project is part of the SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) phase 3 funding. The program itself provides subsidies for large-scale technology demonstrations (phase 3) conducted by start-ups and other organizations. The goal is to connect research and development to the implementation of advanced technologies in society.

Under the project – managed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) – Tier IV will form a consortium with various companies and institutions involved in autonomous driving, including BOLDLY, Advanced Smart Mobility, Kanagawa Institute of Technology, and the National Traffic Safety and Environment Laboratory. The consortium’s grant ceiling is approximately 7.7 billion yen ($50 million), which will be spread over a four-year period from 2024 to 2027.

The Japanese government has more broadly set a goal of establishing AD services to tackle sustainability issues in regional public transportation. Here, the consortium led by Tier IV will support these efforts by establishing safety assessment processes for AD systems and rolling out new AD services, leveraging the insights gained from past government projects and collective expertise of the members.

With these members, Tier IV will build two key initiatives, the first being an integrated DevOps framework designed to support Level 4 AD certification. Not only will this help define operational design domains and derive risk scenarios, but also establish safety assessment methods using vehicles and simulators. At the same time, this framework will create workflows for manuals ensuring the safe operations of AD systems, while helping establish DevOps processes encompassing design, verification & validation, test and analysis.

Tier IV will also contribute to the development of AD packages tailored for regional stakeholders to facilitate the implementation of AD services within their communities. These will include: vehicles compatible with Level 4 regulations, safety assessment methods and simulators, fleet management systems for autonomous vehicles, integration and adaptation manuals for AD services, utility tools and more.

Through these efforts, Tier IV and consortium members are looking to contribute to the government’s goal of deploying autonomous vehicles in over 100 cities by 2027, addressing challenges such as driver shortages and other issues facing regional public transportation.