Just as the US is getting used to seeing driverless cars on the road in California, Japan is taking it to a whole new level altogether.
On the roads of Hokkaido, local residents are coming to terms with seeing a small bus taking passengers on their usual stops around the city. The only difference, no driver.
Japanese authorities in the municipal government of Kamishihoro started the test on a town road, as they want to get local residents feel about this new technology The ‘Naya Arma’ autonomous bus is French-made (surprising as we’re in Japan) and owned by Softbank Group corporation.
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As you can see in the video, the bus has already been used in some of the rural areas of Japan and this is the first time it is being done in a city like Kamishihoro. In our view, they could have done better by placing a robot or dummy behind the wheel, because everyone getting on the bus is still surprised at not seeing a driver.
The Hokkaido test is designed to study various technical issues and to see whether the technology could be used both in hilly and mountainous terrain where bus and taxi service are in short supply, and in city areas where there is more traffic.
The bus has eight sensors on the various sides and is steered by GPS connected via Wifi. In town, it drives at a mere 10 kilometres per hour and the first tests in Hokkaido is only running between two points in the city.
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We are in Atlanta this week to demonstrate our NAVYA SHUTTLE with <a href="https://twitter.com/KeolisNA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@KeolisNA</a> at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/aptaexpo2017?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#aptaexpo2017</a>. Booth Hall B 3119, this route is Hall B1! <a href="https://t.co/YLYcHaUGPv">pic.twitter.com/YLYcHaUGPv</a></p>— NAVYA (@NAVYA_Group) <a href="https://twitter.com/NAVYA_Group/status/917406055868583938?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 9, 2017</a></blockquote>
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Kamishihoro Mayor Mitsugi Takenaka: “We hope that driverless bus services will be put to practical use and work to help the mobility of residents.”