A free, self-driving bus began running in Sakai, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Thursday. This is the first regular operation of a self-driving bus in Japan, according to the town.
The town purchased French-made vehicles that have a capacity of 11 people each and outsourced the operation management to a subsidiary of telecom giant SoftBank Corp.
The bus is programmed to run at a speed of 18 kilometres per hour on a 5-kilometre round trip through the center of the town. It automatically avoids obstacles by detecting them with sensors.
A driver and security personnel on board the bus will check the bus’ surroundings before departing from bus stops or when moving through traffic jams.
The bus will make four round-trips a day for now.
“It’s like a vehicle of the future, and I hope it will be a popular topic of conversation in town,” Masahiro Hashimoto, the mayor of the town, said at the bus departure ceremony on Wednesday.
This article was first published in Asia One . All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.