An automated delivery conveyor drives on a street in Japan.
Fujisawa SST Council

Japan prioritizes robotic delivery

Japan experienced one of the world's worst labor crunches during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only were there fewer young workers available than ever due to the country's aged population, the need to shelter at home created an enormous surge in delivery demand. In response, the country has made the development of low-speed delivery robots one of just a dozen high-tech growth strategies and one of only three focused on mobility. Panasonic and other companies are quickly organizing pilots, such as one "in Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, the six-year-old urban development initiative in Fujisawa City, Kanagawa Prefecture."

This points towards a role for national innovation and industrial policy in focusing autonomous vehicle R&D in the goods movement sector to address specific social challenges, with the potential for technical breakthroughs and disruptive innovation that could lead to market successes, adoption of favorable enabling regulations, and experimentation with urban designs and land uses that exploit the new technology.

Delivery + Logistics
automated vehicles