Autonomous vehicles

Driverless train reverses in wrong direction in Yokohama, Japan injuring 14

An automated train accidentally reversed in Japan’s Yokohama’s Shin-Sugita Station, injuring 14 passengers onboard on June 1, 2019.

The five-car automated train, which is operated by Yokohama Seaside Line Co., unexpectedly reversed when departing from the station. Witnesses to the incident say the train left the terminal before abruptly stopping, and then suddenly travelled approximately 25 meters in the opposite direction, colliding with a station buffer.

The accident left 14 passengers injured, six of those seriously injured but not life-threatening. Approximately 50 passengers had been on-board the train at the time of the collision.

The company which operates on a 6.8 mile automated guideway transit line between the Shin-Sugita and Kanazawa Hakkei Stations has been in operation for over thirty years has commented that this is the first-ever incident for Japan’s self-driving train system. Operators have since halted services, while the accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the accident. Yokohama Seaside Line Co. president Akihiko Mikami believes the incident may have occurred due to a glitch in the self-driving train’s operating system.

The safety of driverless vehicles has been a hot topic as more companies around the world trial the technology.