The Japanese government and Robot Taxi Inc. announced on Thursday that Japan will begin testing autonomous taxis with passengers on city roads in 2016.
The self-driving trial taxi service also called robot taxi will be offered for approximately 50 people in Kanagawa prefecture, which will cover the south part of the Tokyo city. The Wall Street Journal reported that the cabs will drive a distance of about three kilometers (two miles), and part of the course will be on major avenues in the city. The Crew members will also be in the car during the experiment in case of any problem or to avoid any kind of accidents.
The self driving taxi service which is a joint venture between mobile Internet company DeNA Co. and vehicle technology developer ZMP Inc. has planned to commercialized its driverless transportation service by 2020.
At an event Thursday afternoon to promote the driverless-taxi effort, Shinjiro Koizumi, son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and a vice minister in the current government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “There are a lot of people who say it’s impossible, but I think this will happen faster than people expect,” the project is a government effort to promote innovation and startup businesses.
There are other companies like Google, Uber and other who have been testing their self driving cars. Today General Motors announced that their employees will have access to autonomous vehicles to use around its campus in Michigan late next year. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk also said that Tesla vehicles will be fully automated within another three years.