SoftBank – one of the earlier investors in the Japan based Self-Driving Bus project ” SB Drive ” has put in extra money to maintain the majority stakes in the company. This extra investment is in response to Yahoo Japan’s recent investment of $4.6 million in the company. With this SoftBank holds a controlling stake of 51.1%, Yahoo Japan owns 48.6% and the founding partner Advanced Mobility holds 0.3%.
Yahoo Japan being one of the most influential tech companies in Japan has special interest in Self-Driving vehicles in the region. With this Yahoo can implement its maps and gather all the valuable data of routes, weather, pedestrian behavior etc. the Autonomous vehicle provides, for creating better patterns and maps for public transportation in the country. While for SoftBank its an investment to retain its interest in creating effective and modern Driver-less public transportation in the region.
Note: SB Drive also recently demonstrated a Driver-less shuttle “NAVYA ARMA” in an experiment conducted by the bus survey committee on a preset route. The bus had a riding capacity of 15 people and can speed upto 45 km/h. The autonomous shuttle ‘Navya Arma’ has already been introduced as a public transportation system in Switzerland & test runs have been conducted in Australia, US, New Zealand etc.
The main moto of SB Drive is to provide automated and ease of public transport to every rural area in the country and have an ambitious plan to launch it by 2020.For similar purpose, SB Drive has already collaborated with 4 municipalities in Japan to make it a success in the rural areas. According to SB Drive team, they have been conducting trials on fixed route autonomous buses and trucks.
As per stats, getting autonomous buses on roads has not been a very popular idea in the West. But Japan has taken a step forward keeping in concern that the majority of Japan’s population is aged above 65. They eye it as an excellent solution that can help old people to safely and effortlessly transport.
With various areas already covered, it will be worth watching how will the autonomous buses take over public transportation in Japan!