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Is Japan Heading Towards A Self-Driving Revolution? In the Japanese mobility space, it is partnerships that are driving innovation to explore the potential of autonomous vehicles

By Nidhi Singh

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Startups and big companies both are showing increasing interest in mobility technologies and Japan is not far behind in this race. From self-driving mechanism to hyperloop technology, the country is going all out to improve the future of urban mobility.

According to Reuters, a self-driving car service could be on Tokyo's public roads in time for the 2020 Olympics as Japan looks to drive investment in new technology to drive economic growth.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announced in June that the country will begin testing a driverless car system on public roads sometime this fiscal year with the goal of launching a self-driving car service for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The government also plans to commercialize this system as early as 2022.

Self-Driving Vehicles: The Next Revolution

With the government spending big money to put self-driving cars on the roads, big companies like Toyota and General Motors are also gearing up to make this long-awaited dream a reality.

A 2016 Business Sweden (The Swedish Trade & Invest Council) report states that Japan's automotive industry is still playing catch-up in the field of autonomous driving and is likely to retake the lead within the coming years as it is a highly prioritized area for the government and companies alike. Swedish companies in automotive related industries with unique products or services should examine opportunities arising from Japan's ambitions within autonomous driving, it adds.

Partnerships On the Rise

In the Japanese mobility space, it is partnerships that are driving innovation to explore the potential of autonomous vehicles. Baidu, Nissan, General Motors, to name a few, are companies that have collaborated this year to test driverless vehicles in Japan.

In February, Nissan and Japanese gaming software maker DeNA, announced the launch of Easy Ride, a robo-vehicle mobility service developed by both companies for people who want to travel freely to their destination of choice.

For efficient fleet operation and customers' peace of mind, both companies have set up a remote monitoring centre that uses the two companies' advanced technologies.

Joining the league was the US automaker General Motors and Cruise Automation (self-driving unit of General Motors) that partnered with Japanese car maker Honda this month to build self-driving cars. Under the partnership, Honda will invest $2.75 Billion in GM's self-driving car unit.

Honda will work jointly with Cruise and General Motors to fund and develop a purpose-built autonomous vehicle for Cruise that can serve a wide variety of use cases and be manufactured at high volume for global deployment. In addition, Cruise, General Motors and Honda will explore global opportunities for commercial deployment of the Cruise network.

Next up is Japanese automobile giant Toyota Motor that set up a strategic partnership and joint venture called MONET Technologies Corporation with SoftBank this month. The new company MONET will facilitate the creation of new mobility services.

Nidhi Singh

Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific

A self confessed Bollywood Lover, Travel junkie and Food Evangelist.I like travelling and I believe it is very important to take ones mind off the daily monotony .

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