When the giants such as Google, Tesla, Nissan and many others were claiming to get their driver-less cars on road within a span of 3 to 5 years, this Japan-based company Robot Taxi Inc. has taken the world by surprise by announcing that they will start testing their robot cars in the beginning of the year 2016.
The service will be provided to a group of 50 people, in Kanagawa prefecture, south of Tokyo with the robot cars providing transportation from their homes to local grocery stores, driving three kilometers for every journey. As this is just an experiment for beginning and company want to play it safe, so human drivers will always have access to the steering just in case if anything goes wrong.
Robot Taxi Inc. is a joint enterprise of Sony owned Vehicle technology developer ZMP Inc. and mobile Internet company that helped Nintendo to develop games for smartphones DeNA Co. and is aiming to provide driver-less transportation service to the places which are not accessible by buses and trains by Tokyo Olympics for overseas travelers as well as locals.
The project of driver-less cars can be considered as a part of government’s effort to provide favorable breeding grounds for innovation and startups to grow.
Shinjiro Koizumi, a vice minister in the Japan government was their at an event to promote the effort of robot cars and quoted:
“There are a lot of people who say it’s impossible, but I think this will happen faster than people expect.”
The company will fixate its attention on providing safe transportation to elderly people throughout the country. Currently, Japan is one of the most elderly populated nation in the world, where 33% population of the country has already hit the mark of 60 and above.
Netherlands already has a fleet of self-driving electric shuttle, the WEpod running between towns at the top speed of 25mph, equipped with GPS, Laser sensor and radar and recently in September 2015 UK’s driver-less vehicles, the electric LUTZ Pathfinder pods also began their trials with three pods in Milton Keynes.