In 5 year time, Visitors going to Tokyo’s Summer Olympics could be greeted by a range of self-driving taxis! This is exciting, yet taxi services in Japan are excellent (clean, ultra polite, simple perfect)…so would be hard to beat local taxi drivers. The potential of these self-driving taxis could be huge in Europe for example to avoid tobacco smelly taxis.

Ok, you get the picture. Amazing inventions by Japanese, with huge potential overseas. [In a 2014 survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, it was found that among China, India, Japan, the US, the UK, and Australia, public perception of self-driving cars was positive in all surveyed nations except Japan, which displayed neutral opinions, according to the study.
Interestingly, nearly 50% of respondents in each China and India had “very positive” feelings about autonomous vehicles, while Japan only racked up 10% in the same category. (The US measured in at 22%.)

Source: From Gizmodo

So who is doing it? How does it work?

Japanese tech company DeNAhas been working for the last 5 years on self driving car technology.

The company believes it can leverage its mobile infrastructure savvy to develop the best software needed to summon a fleet of robocars on a smartphone.

DeNA’s autonomous taxis, called “Robot Taxi,” joins players like Uber, Google, Apple, Tesla, Audi, Volvo, Delphi, BMW, or Mercedes in the race to develop self-driving vehicles, etc… All these companies all take a different approach to developing driverless cars.

Car companies such as Nissan and BMW bring auto manufacturing knowhow to the table.

Apple could leverage their expertise in buzzworthy hardware to build a car from scratch without the help of carmakers.

Google leads the way in information technology, incorporating rich maps that give a bird’s eye view of the vehicle’s surroundings.

Uber’s mastered on-demand ridesharing.

And DeNA?
The Japanese firm believes autos are reaching a turning point, and that the focus is pivoting from hardware to mobile software—data, apps, user experience, much like smartphones did a decade ago.
The company got also decade of experience operating mobile devices and server-side tech for massive user traffic, and commercializing that technology. The company has been leading mobile platforms since 2004—three years before the iPhone came along.

The company is partnering with ZMP, a Tokyo robotics startup that’s been developing autonomous vehicle technology since 2008 – under the name of “The General Robot Company”.

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 5.59.11 pm

ZMP says its Robot Taxi uses lidar sensors and image-recognition cameras to measure distances between objects like traffic lights or pedestrians, the same as Google’s cars, using laser beams. ZMP is also toying with millimeter wave radars: mountable radars that gauge how far or close traffic is ahead on the road…

DeNA, whose ventures include a wildly popular manga-reading app for comic lovers (yes, I am a huge animate fan), boasts that it has a proven track record of commercializing technology to wide audiences via handheld devices. It’s selling the fun behind self-driving cars.

I can’t wait to go into a Robot Taxi car !

Source: Gizmodo, Japan Times
Image credit: ZMP