As Japan looks for driverless services and autonomous public transportation solutions, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has begun testing self-driving buses.
The self-driving bus, which can travel at a top speed of 50 kph, was unveiled on Monday as the trials got underway in an effort to alleviate the chronic shortage of bus drivers in the busy Japanese metropolis.
The autonomous vehicle has a small seating capacity of only 18 passengers and travels along a regular loop route that links the crowded Shinjuku Station with two important metropolitan government buildings.
Passengers must make an online reservation in advance to guarantee a seat on the self-driving trip.
The self-driving bus works during the week with 12 services running from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a condensed schedule on weekends and holidays. The test runs are expected to go until October 13.
According to local media reports, officials with the metropolitan government announced that they intend to analyze the self-driving bus’s performance in regions with somewhat heavy traffic while evaluating the infrastructure needs for designated autonomous lanes.
Although Japan is moving more quickly toward transformative transportation technologies, such as level IV vehicles, observers here remarked that the country is still a long way from having driverless transit.