According to The Asahi Shimbun today, Tokyo-based Robot Taxi Inc. and the Cabinet Office will start a demonstration test of driverless cabs as early as January in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
In the test in a designated National Strategic Special Zone, around 50 residents of Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture, will travel on about 3 kilometers of main roads between their homes and a supermarket in two autonomous taxis summoned via smartphone.
However, a driver and an assistant will be on hand to manually navigate the taxis on small roads near the residents’ homes and elsewhere.
Robot Taxi will collect data during the roughly two weeks of testing and then intermittently repeat the process while adding improvements.
The company, a joint venture founded by major IT company DeNA Co. and Tokyo-based ZMP Inc., a startup developing autonomous driving technology, plans to operate driverless taxis in the 2020s.
Robot Taxi wants to test fully unmanned vehicles, but many issues must be tackled first, such as amending the Road Traffic Act.
Robot Taxi and the Cabinet Office have also revealed plans to begin demonstration testing of autonomous driving during the current fiscal year in the city of Sendai and in Aichi Prefecture.
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