Japan is leading no stone unturned in the hosting of the 3020 Olympics. One of the innovative features that will be introduced in the games is the automatic taxis.
Except they won’t be driving themselves and neither is their chauffeur. They’re travelling in a robot taxi.
“It was just like a normal taxi. Just sitting there I would have forgotten it was an automatic. The car itself looks just like a normal one,” said 45-year-old test drive volunteer Takeshi.
The model has been created by robotics developer ZMP, which has been working with Japanese taxi firm Hinomaru.
“We wanted to help those who don’t have transportation. We want people without access to public transportation to have easier access. So this was the idea behind our vision for the automatic taxi,” said managing director of ZMP Inc, Mr Akihiro Nishima.
The company’s aim is to get the automatic taxis on the streets of Tokyo by the start of the 2020 olympics.
The self-driving taxi based on a Toyota Estima Hybrid car and operated by Hinomaru Kotsu Co, is seen at the start of its test drive in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug 27, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS
The city’s taxi industry is already stressed with unprecedented levels of tourism and an aging population.
The average age of Tokyo’s taxi drivers is almost 60 and there’s a shortage of suitable drivers, according to Hinomaru.
Robot taxis could solve that issue, but it’s not without its faults.The 4.8km test drive was not completely automatic and still needed a driver in some parts of the route to control the wheel.