It seems were are getting closer than believed to self-driving cars, and Japan will be testing driverless cabs next year for a selected number of people. It’s still an excellent trial of what could be the future of transportation. And, if some experts are believed, it will cut down on traffic accidents.
The Tokyo-based company, Robot Taxi, has announced on October 1st at a ceremony that they will soon start trials for their driverless cabs. The date is set to be much sooner than previously thought or reported by any other company in the world. However, the program will be restricted.
Only around 50 citizens living in the Kanagawa prefecture, which is south of Tokyo, will get a chance to hop into a taxi and watch it drive them to their location. It will have a range of at least 2 miles and will be taking major avenues to drive them to grocery stores, home or other places that are not accessible through public transportation.
Just in case though, future customers should rest assured that there will be a human accompanying the car. They will remain in the backseat, and only intervene if the self-driving vehicle strays off course or in the case of accidents. It’s an important detail to consider, especially since they will be targeted toward the older demographic.
Since statistics have shown that 33% of Japan’s population consists of adults over 60 years old, the nation has begun investing more into elderly care. Developing robotic cars that will limit their use of public transportation or walking is part of the solution. It could also aid those unable to drive due to both age or disabilities.
Robot Taxi has secured high-tech vehicles, well working with a GPS, millimeter wave radar, stereo vision cameras, and image analysis to detect possible obstacles while it’s navigating around the streets. The concept of self-driving cars is apparently much closer to reality than people think. The vehicles will start being seen around the streets near Tokyo as early as next year.
This is quite an impressive achievement that the company hopes to extent to buses as well.
There have been reports that Japan has been slacking on the industry of self-driving cars, while others like Tesla, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Ford had been hard at work and promoting their models. Google has made their own progress as well, by starting to test driverless vehicles this year on roads around the United States.
However, Robot Taxi is taking a step forward and starting early. The project is set to begin sometime in 2016 before the team will expand to other locations.
Image source: wsj.net