While self-driving cars or autonomous vehicles in the US are a hot topic, the subject is getting at least as much attention in Japan. In 2016, the Japanese will have their first “robot taxis” on the road for testing purposes. Robot taxis are a creation of DeNA Co., a mobile game developer and online services provider, and ZMP, Inc., a robotics company known for its humanoid robots.
Some reports suggest that the Japanese version of self-driving cars could give US companies including Google, Uber, and General Motors as much competition as Japan has given Detroit’s automakers over the past four decades. If true, the Japanese will be out-designing US autonomous vehicle makers in terms of style, efficiency, and quality.
The Japanese experiment, known as “RoboCab,” is gearing up to become a central fixture in the 2020 Olympics. If RoboCab can become fully operational by the start of the Olympics, it will be a great coup.
Nissan Has Skin in the Game Too
Japan’s Nissan Corporation recently opened an open innovation lab known as Nissan’s Research Center Silicon Valley. Nissan also announced an agreement with NASA’s Aims Research Center to develop a prototype of an autonomous vehicle to transport goods and people.
The Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, is now being equipped with autonomous driving components in Silicon Valley.
Following is a look at the Robot Taxi in Japan.