Self-Driving Taxis Could Put Uber and Lyft on Notice
Taxis are big business and that business is none too fond of services like Uber and Lyft. Japanese company DeNA plans to do one better and launch a fleet of self-driving taxis that will fill the streets of Tokyo by the 2020 Summer Olympics. DeNA (pronounced D-N-A) is a huge mobile game developer with net worth of over $1 billion. They're a big deal in Japan. The company has moved from mobile games to other emerging industries, including self-driving taxis. They've teamed with Tokyo robotics startup ZMP on a service called Robot Taxi. RELATED: See The 2014 Nissan NV200 Taxi
The idea is to combine the perks of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft with the convenience of self-driving cars. The vehicles use lidar sensors and image-recognition cameras to avoid obstacles, stay within the lanes, and obey traffic lights. There are also millimeter wave radar mounts in development to even more accurately gauge traffic distances.
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According to Gizmodo, while ZMP works on the hardware, DeNA is working on the software. They're creating an app that will let users hail a Robot Taxi and then continue to integrate with the car during the ride. The Olympics will be a fantastic way to showcase the new service and, if it works well, the attention it garners will help them expand more quickly.
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