Robot Taxi reported to have been testing its self driving taxi in a small region of Japan since last year. The company is planning to use it for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to chauffeur people around.
Robot Taxi is a joint venture between DeNA (one of the pioneer in mobile internet of Japan) and ZMP (one of Japan’s robotics firm). Instead of building its own cars from scratch, the company enhances the existing cars with self driving technologies as well as marketing its taxi service.
Robot Taxi was developed in order to make it convenient for elderly to go to their destination as Japan has a greying population and it is not easy for them to get transportation available especially in the rural area. The company is planning to make it less expensive than traditional taxi. As about 70% of the cost is actually the labour cost.
Robot Taxi has a few challenges. The main challenge is to get the autonomous driving technology to work on local roads and highways as well as maps as accurate as possible. There are also challenges on getting permission for the autonomous taxi to be driven on the road. As according to 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, there is a statement whereby every vehicle or combination of vehicles proceeding as a unit shall have a driver.
One good news is that the Japanese government has signed off on driverless taxis. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister said that he could tell that in 2020 Tokyo, self driving cars would be running around, and people would be able to use them to move around.