World’s First Robot Taxi Begins Driving in Tokyo, Japan

I remember my first taxi ride in Tokyo. The driver was professionally dressed in a uniform and was wearing white gloves. His hands skillfully and precisely guided the car through Japan’s immaculate capital city.

However, starting today, the role of the uniformed taxi driver in Tokyo will gradually give way to artificial intelligence.

The Japanese robot company, ZMP, is deploying its autonomous vehicle to carry passengers on a 5-kilometer stretch of central Tokyo. It hopes to be fully operational before 40 million tourists arrive in 2020 for the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

Here is a look at the vehicle undergoing noise testing on a controlled track:

The Land of the Rising Robots

Japan is a global leader in the production of industrial robots. In 2016, the country exported roughly $1.6 billion dollars’ worth of industrial robots, or 52% of the world’s supply.

The recent purchase of Boston Dynamics, formerly a subsidiary of Google’s parent company, further strengthens Japan’s lead in robot production and usage.

New Marketing Opportunities

New hardware requires new software. Japan’s deployment of robotic taxis and other forms of automation will require ever-larger amounts of code.

This equals a unique opportunity for software companies looking to expand into the third largest economy.

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