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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.


Have smartphone, will travel: How far can you get with just passport, wallet and phone?

The Independent - Tech

Sure, you know your mobile phone is essential, but exactly how much can you rely on it? A few days ago in Japan, Google threw down a gauntlet: how far can you get in a foreign country, where you can't be sure of finding an English speaker, where the words, even the alphabet, are unfamiliar, and where the address system is notoriously tricky? So there I was, in Tokyo, charged with solving a series of puzzles using a smartphone and nothing more. First, I had to get myself from bustling Tokyo (where English speakers are plentiful and, because they are Japanese, endlessly helpful) to the distant city of Kanazawa. I had a JR train pass, which is the best way to get around Japan for a foreigner and which offers fantastic value, though you must buy it before you arrive in the country.


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 will test self-driving cars in London next month

Daily Mail - Science & tech

In a bid to keep up with its rivals including Tesla and Google, Nissan has announced its plans to bring real-world demonstrations of autonomous vehicles to the UK. The on-road demonstrations will take place in London in February, where passengers will be able to experience the technology in a modified Nissan LEAF. The demonstrations mark the first time Nissan's autonomous drive technology will be showcased on public roads in Europe. Since December, Nissan has been using driverless cars to tow other vehicles around its production facility in Japan. The technology is currently being tested at Nissan's Oppama production in in Yokohama, near Tokyo.


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.