The famous idea of autopilot cars is slowly coming to realization. Of course, we’re still far from commercial unmanned vehicles but we’re getting closer as many companies introduce new projects. For instance, the Japanese mobile game company DeNA began testing its first unmanned shuttles in the Nishikata area located about a hundred kilometres from Tokyo. For the test, DeNA created a six-seat driverless taxi to help retired people lead an active life and fulfil their daily tasks.
The population of Japan is rapidly aging, so in many provinces, villages and small towns, most residents are already retired. This means that they can’t see as well as before, their coordination and reaction time are also not the same, so the elder car owners can’t always use their own vehicles to drive to shops or their friends’ houses for a visit.
Unmanned buses Robot Shuttle from DeNA are designed to solve this problem and are already being tested. Their speed is still limited to 10 kilometres per hour, but even so, these slow-driving taxis allow many retired people to travel about their business within the district.
The testing programme will last until 2020. If everything goes well and unmanned buses prove themselves effective, the Japanese government promises to allocate separate road lanes for them and launch them across the whole country.