(The image above is a snapshot, not a video)
A company called – wait for it – Robot Taxi has announced it will begin trials on autonomous taxi cabs in Japan next year. Fifty lucky residents of Kanagawa prefecture, just south of Tokyo, will be the first to ride the taxis of the future on round-trip journeys from their homes to local stores. And don’t worry, there will still be a human riding along in the driver’s seat during the test runs just in case the self-driving car gets into any trouble.
Robot Taxi is optimistic about the trials and is aiming for a full commercial release of self-driving taxi service by 2020. The company will target areas that aren’t currently served by public transportation in an effort to close the gap and provide wider city access to people without cars, like tourists and the elderly. Robot Taxi’s two-minute ad, above, illustrates that idea, as it follows an empty robo-cab on its way to pick up an older couple from their home. The only question is, why are so many people waving at the empty taxi?
Self-driving car technology is progressing like gangbusters, and now it really does seem like everyone has a horse in the race. Google’s already got self-driving cars on the streets of Mountain View, California. Uber is reportedly researching autonomous car technology, and even big car makers like Chevy and Hyundai are in on the game. Even Tesla has committed to producing a self-driving car by next year. Although it’s not clear what make of car the Robot Taxi will employ, one thing is quite certain: within just a few years, there will be a lot of driverless cars on the roadways.