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2013-11-09 13:36

'LOOK MA, NO HANDS': Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe lets the Lexus do the driving for the very first trip in an autonomous (totally self-driving) car on Toyko's streets. Image: AFP

  Video

Mercedes-Benz sent its S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle along an historic route in Germany, demonstrating the feasibility of autonomous cars in Europe. The self-driving S-Class travelled 100km along a route previously set by motoring pioneer Bertha Benz 125 years earlier.

TOKYO, Japan - Prime minister Shinzo Abe took a ride in several self-driving vehicles on public roads here on Saturday (Nov 9 2013), showcasing the technology ahead of the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show.

It was the first time that auto-piloting vehicles have run on ordinary roads in Japan.

Abe tried auto-piloting vehicles from Toyota, Honda and Nissan around Japan's National Diet (government) Building, as major international automakers compete with likes of Google and other IT firms to develop new types of cars with the goal of helping to reduce accidents by eradicating human error.

PEDESTRIANS, THIS TIME...

Abe told reporters after riding the vehicles: "I felt with my body that the Japanese technology is the world's best."

Automakers have previously tested self-driving vehicles on highways that offer better driving conditions but no pedestrians.

The Tokyo Motor Show, slated for later end-November, will feature the self-driving technologies, as well as electric vehicles and other models.

Abe has pledged to help advance auto-piloting technology as part of his economic policy, in addition to measures encouraging various technological innovations, investments and to attract foreign talents to work in Japan.
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