taxi tokyo

A venture firm and a major taxi company began trials of passenger-carrying autonomous taxi services on Monday with an eye on launching the full service around 2021 when Tokyo hosts the Olympics and the Paralympics.

ZMP Inc., a Tokyo-based developer of autonomous driving technology, and Hinomaru Kotsu Co., said they are the first in the world to offer autonomous taxi services to fare-paying passengers in the test through Sept. 8.

Other tech companies and automakers have also been testing autonomous driving services in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. If the Tokyo RoboCar MiniVan trial is successful, officials hope to scale up the program to assist with the increased transportation demand during the 2021 Summer Olympics and, beyond that, help the rapidly ageing population in Japan’s rural areas get around.

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