Japan joins the race towards autonomous vehicles

When you think of robot cars, chances are you’ll come up with Google’s driverless car, which has made the news again and again. Yet Google is not the only one working on this technology. From car-makers to technology companies, a lot of big players have entered the field.

Among them is DeNA Co., the Japanese mobile and gaming company, who teamed up with robot technology developer ZMP Inc., and wants to bring driverless cabs to Tokyo by 2020. Just in time for, you guessed it, the Olympics.

The company announced at an event yesterday that it will start experimenting with their unmanned taxis in 2016 in Kanagawa prefecture. At first, they will drive about 50 people between their homes and local grocery stores. This commute will be only 3 kilometers long but will use both major avenues and smaller, local streets.

Kuroiwa (left) and Koizumi at the event

Kuroiwa (left) and Koizumi at the event

Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa attended the event, along with Shinjiro Koizumi, parliamentary vice-minister of the Cabinet Office, to show the support of the government for the initiative. The venture, called Robot Taxi Inc., is a good example of the government’s effort to promote innovation and startup businesses.

Picture credit : The Japan Times.

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