Autonomous trial in Japan

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The Jiji Press has reported that a driverless ‘autonomous’ bus with passengers onboard has slowly traversed a lakeside road in Senboku in Akita Prefecture

In the public road test of the automated 12-passenger capacity electric vehicle, the first of its kind in Japan, it went back and forth carrying six people at a time at around 10km/h on a 400m closed section alongside Lake Tazawa. DeNA Co. conducted the test on behalf of the Cabinet Office and the Senboku municipal government, which are exploring the possibility of introducing automated public transport systems in sparsely populated areas. The autonomous bus used a global positioning system, various sensors and cameras to navigate around obstacles.

“As the ride was smooth and quiet, I thought I could enjoy chatting with a friend in the bus,” said Seiko Fujimura, a 77-year-old resident of Senboku, commenting on her experience onboard a state-designated special zone for regional vitalization.

“The bus gave me a more comfortable ride than a car driven by my father,” said Rikuto Tomishima, an eight-year-old boy in the same city.

Regional Revitalization Minister Kozo Yamamoto took part in the experiment and rode on the bus.