Tsukuba, JP is preparing

The world’s first successful test of autonomous vehicle technology took place at University of Tsukuba’s Mechanical Engineering Lab in 1977. In 2019, some 42 years later, the city of Tsukuba planned to pilot a system of single-seat electric cars and self-driving buses, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

This system was aimed at Japan’s aging population, with self-driving cars transporting people from their homes to a bus station where they would transfer onto fuel-cell-powered self-driving buses running fixed inner-city routes, or onto ones making long-distance trips to Tokyo Station or Narita Airport.

The 3-year experiment began with preliminary research to identify congested areas using a combination of satellite imagery, street-side sensors and artificial intelligence. The city’s plans included partnering with the University of Tsukuba, one of the country’s oldest research universities, and Toyota Motors.

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