Japan has started testing its driverless taxi this week.
According to reports, Japan began testing its driverless taxi in the streets of Tokyo on Monday. The taxi company Hinomaru Kotsu and the autonomous driving technology developer ZMP, the two companies behind the project, are hoping to launch their full service on 2020, just in time for the Summer Olympics that will be hosted by Japan.
Hinomaru and ZMP claim that they are the first in the world to offer paying passengers an autonomous taxi experience. The test program will run until September 8 and will operate between Tokyo’s Otemachi and Roppongi districts. Riders of the said autonomous vehicle just have to unlock the door, ride the car, and pay the fare through a smartphone application.
“A driver and an assistant will be in the taxi for safety purposes, but the actual driving of the vehicle will be conducted automatically using ZMP’s system,” reports said.
The driverless taxi comes in the form of a minivan. The vehicle is said to be equipped with sensors and other state-of-the-art autonomous technologies. It makes four round trips a day around the commercial facilities between the districts of Otemachi and Roppongi.
A driver and an assistant are reportedly on board to ensure the safety of the passengers during the trial period. However, the car’s autonomous technology is in charge of starting, stopping, and maneuvering it. A one-way ride with the driverless taxi will cost around ¥1,500 or $13 USD.
One of the taxi’s first passengers, Toshima Ward, was quoted as saying:
“It was such a natural ride that I almost forgot it was a self-driving car. I felt the advancement of technology.”
Other car manufacturing companies in Japan are also invested in developing their robo-vehicles and unmanned cars. In fact, earlier this year, Nissan and the tech company DeNa also tested their Easy Ride robot vehicle service around Japan’s Yokohama city. ZMP and DeNa have also run trials on a driverless taxi back in 2016.