Tokyo plans to serve the 2020 Olympics with self-driving cars

By Cynthia Shahan, Clean Technica, 25 June 2017

The 2020 Olympics are around the corner and the Tokyo Olympics organizers plan to service the crowds and athletes with driverless cab service — full robot, no driver at all.

“Japanese robotics maker ZMP Inc has partnered with a taxi operator in Tokyo, as part of its plans to launch a self-driving taxi in the city in time for the 2020 Olympics,” Reuters reports.

“Autonomous taxis and the taxi industry can grow and prosper together,” Taniguchi told reporters, after announcing ZMP’s partnership with Hinomaru Kotsu.” 

It is a time when many countries are trying to maneuver how the world will transition to self-driving cars and robots, and how to handle all of the ramifications.

Hinomaru is a good test partner. It reports the use of 607 cars as one of the top 10 Tokyo taxi firms.

“We have been trying to improve diversity by hiring more new graduates, women, and foreigners, but this will not be enough to ease labor shortages,” Hinomaru President Kazutaka Tomita said. “We will have to compensate for the lack of supply by using autonomous driving technology.”

Japan has already shown a propensity for use of and indeed a fascination with robots. ZMP, a good example, is developing automated driving hardware and software based on laser and stereo cameras. The belief is that this hardware and software will be sold to transportation companies and automakers. “ZMP is one of a few start-ups developing self-driving cars to compete with foreign firms including U.S.’ nuTonomy and China’s Future Mobility.

“ZMP has been testing self-driving vehicles that also have someone in the driving seat on Tokyo roads since 2016, and is planning to set up a fleet of such taxis to ferry athletes and guests around the city for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It hopes to test autonomous cars without a driver this year.”

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