Japan to conduct road tests with eye on 2020 Olympics

Japan hopes to have a fleet of driverless taxis ready for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and with that goal in mind the government has paved the way for road tests to begin at the start of next year.

The testing will take place in the city of Fujisawa in Kanagawa Prefecture in collaboration with Robot Taxi, a subsidiary of gaming company DeNA.

Some 50 residents will participate by riding the self-driving cabs from their homes to the supermarket and back along a 3km route using arterial roadways.

For safety purposes, two “crew members” will also go on the rides, ready to take the wheel if mishaps occur.

The cabinet on Thursday will designate self-driving taxi services as one of the projects for Japan’s experimental deregulation zones. The thinking is that by getting Japanese companies involved in this business as quickly as possible the nation can get a leg up on Google and others developing autonomous-driving technologies.

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