Smart city driverless vehicle pilot project planned in Japan

Mitsubishi Corp is in talks with Kamakura City’s municipal government about developing its urban core and surrounding region into a smart city. Recently, the partnership joined forces with four other interests to commence a pilot project that will combine autonomous-driving technologies and healthcare services in Shonan Health Innovation Park (Shonan iPark). Along with Shonan iPark, the other partners on this project are Tokushukai Shonan Kamakura General Hospital (Kamakura General), Macnica Inc and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

One of the keys to the scheme will be making local medical services more convenient and accessible. Recently, Mitsubishi has been working with the five parties to monitor roughly 1,000 residents of Kamakura and Fujisawa cities and augment those cities’ various medical services with self-driving vehicles.

The pilot project will likely involve the vehicles traveling to and from healthcare facilities to perform examinations, check patients’ vital signs and take their medical histories using digital technologies. If the pilot project is successful and the program can be rolled out permanently, then it should improve accessibility to patients’ homes and local healthcare facilities, enable those facilities to provide smoother treatments and reduce patient wait times.

Financial support for this pilot project is coming by way of Kanagawa Prefecture’s publicly-funded program to assist businesses that are engaged in trials of robotics technologies, as well as funding from the cities of Kamakura and Fujisawa.

Mitsubishi has been nominated by Kamakura City as a private partner in its “Super City Concept.”