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Robot Taxi to bring “driverless taxis” in Japan from 2016

Published : 13th October

Japanese citizens will be whisked to the local shops in driverless taxis from next year in an experiment with robot technology that could be fully commercial by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympics in 2020.

From March 2016, The service will be deployed to a group of around 50 residents with the intention to ferry folk from homes to local grocery stores and places where public transport is inaccessible, which is something it is aiming to help improve the lives of less-mobile elderly citizens. The cars will drive around three kilometres per journey and will also be tasked to drive on main roads with other human users.

 

Robot Taxi, a company based in Tokyo, said that they are working with authorities in order to start a driverless taxi service next year in an experimental launch. The experiment, which is a collaboration between vehicle-technology developer ZMP and mobile-Internet company DeNA, earned backing from the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

While Japanese developers have faith in the car’s GPS, radar and stereovision cameras, attendants will sit in the driver’s seat during the journeys in case human intervention is needed.

If the Fujisawa trials are successful, the cars could be used to ferry spectators around at the 2020 Games and in rural communities with little or no public transport.

Robot-taxi-Japan_driverlessAs one of the fastest-ageing societies in the world, Japan is thought to be ideal for the introduction of self-driving vehicles, amid a rise in the number of accidents involving older drivers.

Robot Taxi’s focus on making its services available to the elderly is the company’s way of addressing the current situation that the country is facing. With 33 percent of its population belonging to the age bracket of 60 and older, Japan is now the most elderly populated country in the world.

As a result, the government continues to find ways on how it can provide the needed care for its elderly. One of the solutions it offers is developing robots that can handle the leg work.

The company added that while the taxis will be driving automatically, an attendant will still be placed behind the driver’s seat in case a problem is met along the way.

                                              
Source: The Guardian

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