Driverless Robot Taxis Will Be a Reality in Japan by 2020

Self driving cars are going to be here sooner than you think. Japan is looking to have cabbie-free taxis by the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020. Apple, Google, and Uber have been working on driver-less cars for a while now, and Japan is also getting into the game with a company called Robot Taxi.

It has been suggested that from March 2016, taxis in Japan will take about 50 residents of Fujisawa from their homes to the supermarkets along the city’s main roads in 3 km journeys.

Japanese developers are relying on GPS, radar, and stereovision cameras in the car for unmanned transport, but will have passengers sit in the driver’s seat during the journeys in case human intervention is required. Initially, the company will target mainly senior citizens, and in rural communities with little or no access to public transportation.

Robot Taxi came out with an ad that depicts a 2020 rural Japan. The narrator is the taxi who says that “he” loves this street before “he” picks up an elderly couple at their house. It’s depicting the car as a member of the community and something that people trust.

Japan is one of the fastest aging societies in the world with over 4.25 million drivers over the age of 75. The driver-less robot taxi will help reduce the number of accidents involving ageing drivers. According to reports by Japan’s police agency, around 458 fatal road accidents in 2013 were caused by drivers over the age of 75. Last month, for the first time in Japan, the number of citizens age 100 and up hit over 60,000. By 2030, one in every three people will be at least 65, and one in every five will be at least 75.

Shinjiro Koizumi, a ruling party MP for Kanagawa, told reporters: “There are a lot of people who say (self-driving cars) are impossible. But I think this will happen faster than people expect.”

The company is expecting that senior citizens will demand for driver-less taxis. However, people of any age will tend to feel a uneasy being driven in a driver-less car and we’ll have to wait and see if people are ready to take that leap pf faith.

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