AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File
Tokyo

Israeli technology paves the way for next-generation smart city services such as autonomous driving and unmanned delivery.

By Pesach Benson, United with Israel

Japanese officials overseeing an ambitious plan to create a digital database of the nation’s streets announced on Wednesday they selected an Israeli startup, Innoviz, to map the roads.

The move paves the way for next-generation smart city services such as autonomous driving and unmanned delivery. To effectively navigate around cities, autonomous vehicles need detailed and up to date maps.

The plan, announced by by Postal Japan, the country’s national postal service, is for Innoviz to install light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors with lasers and perception software on postal delivery vehicles. As postal workers make their rounds, the LiDAR-equipped vehicles will generate detailed digital maps and also track changes in roads and buildings along the routes.

Postal Japan, a private company that operates under government supervision, is overseeing the mapping initiatitve.

“These detailed maps will serve as foundational data to enable next-generation services for Japan’s residents, such as automated driving and more,” the Rosh Ha’Ayin-based Innoviz said in a statement.

In March, the Japanese government passed its first legislation authorizing self-driving cars and delivery robots. A regulatory framework is still being worked out.

Lawmakers said the legislation will also facilitate an initiative to provide driverless transportation for elderly people in rural areas.

It wasn’t indicated how long the project will take or how many roads will be mapped. The Japanese islands have around 7,000 km (4,300 miles) of highways and 1.2 million km (745,000 miles) of general roads.

“We greatly appreciate such an innovative approach full of possibilities to solve local issues across the country using the solution from Innoviz,” said Executive Officer at Japan Post, Yoshihiro Gomi. “We hope that the combination of our assets and InnovizOne LiDAR sensor will lead to the creation of a new business.”

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