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Toyota partnership to pilot autonomous vehicle transportation system

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Toyota Motor is set to launch a pilot project testing a transportation system focusing on autonomous vehicles, in one of Japan's first such initiatives in a real-life setting over a wide area. The company will team up with the University of Tsukuba and the government of the city, just north of Tokyo, to run the project. Under the system envisioned, self-driving, single-seat electric vehicles will take passengers from their homes to the nearest bus stop, where they will be able to transfer to autonomous, fuel-cell powered buses. The experiment, set for launch in fiscal 2019 and running until fiscal 2022, will test the feasibility of the relevant technologies in situations involving regular traffic. One of the main aims of the project is to help resolve the issue of elderly citizens being isolated from their communities.


Company known for mobile games starting driverless bus service

The Japan Times

DeNA Co., best known as a mobile video game maker, said on Thursday it will launch a driverless bus service at a park in Chiba Prefecture from next month. The Tokyo-based firm said it has partnered with EasyMile S.A., a French startup that manufactures self-driving buses. There are not many firms that can provide "completely driverless vehicles that can be used for actual services," said Hiroshi Nakajima, who heads DeNA's automotive business, explaining why his company chose to partner with EasyMile. DeNA's new service will employ the company's EZ10 bus, an electric vehicle that can accommodate 12 people. The limited-time service, dubbed Robot Shuttle, will begin on a yet-to-be-determined date in August inside the 21,000 sq.-meter Toyosuna Park in Chiba's Makuhari district, adjacent to vast Aeon shopping complex.


Nissan's self-driving taxi is ready for passengers

Engadget

Nissan will start testing its self-driving taxi service Easy Ride in a few days in hopes of launching it in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The automaker and Tokyo-based mobile developer DeNA will begin ferrying passengers in Yokohama on March 5th. Nissan's autonomous cars will only be able to drive them along a set route, a 2.8-mile-long stretch of road between Nissan's HQ and the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. But they'll at least be able to give the Easy Ride app's features a try during their trip.


Nidec to acquire Omron's auto electronics unit for ¥100 billion

The Japan Times

OSAKA - Electric motor-maker Nidec Corp. said Tuesday it will acquire component-maker Omron Corp.'s automotive electronics subsidiary for ¥100 billion ($893 million), as it seeks to speed up the development of technology for autonomous and other advanced vehicles. Kyoto-headquartered Nidec will take an entire stake in Omron Automotive Electronics Co. by the end of October, as it aims to combine its strengths in motors, radar and camera-related technologies with Omron Automotive's edge in auto components for self-driving vehicles. "We want to widen our product lineup through the acquisition and enhance our competitiveness in the automobile-oriented business," as the auto industry has been shifting its focus to more electrified and self-driving vehicles, Nidec Chairman and CEO Shigenobu Nagamori told a news conference in Tokyo. Omron said it will focus more on its industrial automation and health care businesses as it found it difficult to continue hefty investments in developing auto technology on its own amid the intensifying race to make next-generation vehicles. Nidec, founded in 1973, has grown in part due to its ambitious mergers and acquisitions strategy.


Narita-based bus lines reaching out to distant tourist spots

The Japan Times

The trend is a result of collaborative efforts being made by Narita International Airport Corp., bus lines and municipalities with popular tourist resources. The plan is to encourage arriving tourists to go directly to the destinations being promoted. This spring, bus operators began offering services from Narita to the cities of Niigata, Toyama and Kanazawa by extending existing routes. These were joined on Friday by a new bus route to Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture. Nikko, north of Tokyo, is a popular tourism draw for Americans and Europeans but has recently been generating buzz among Taiwanese.