Japan will let up to 100 driverless cars roam freely ahead of Olympics

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 05 Sep 2019

A file photo of an 'Autonomous Signage Robot' in Tokyo. Driverless cars, robot volunteers and ultra high-definition TV: Japan Inc hopes to use the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to show the world it has regained its touch for innovation and technology. — AFP

For seven days next July, before Japan kicks off the Summer Olympics, Tokyo will let dozens of driverless vehicles roam freely around the competition venues in the city’s waterfront area to promote the nascent technology.

As many as 100 self-driving cars will ferry up to 7,000 passengers in the week starting July 6, said Seigo Kuzumaki, director for the Japanese government’s autonomous-vehicle programme. Carmakers including Toyota Motor Corp and Nissan Motor Co as well as parts manufacturers and startups are participating, he said.

The largest driverless-vehicle trial in Japan so far is meant to showcase the country’s strengths in the field. From next month through 2022, Japan will run a slew of tests on public roads in Tokyo, involving cars from 28 companies and institutions. The country has a goal for fully autonomous vehicles to start selling in 2025.

Also during the sporting event, more than a dozen Toyota robot vehicles will run a continuous loop within the Olympic and Paralympic Village to shuttle athletes and staff. Another self-driving Toyota vehicle, known as Concept-i and packed with artificial-intelligence technology, will accompany torch relay runners. – Bloomberg

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