DeNA aims for robot taxis by 2020 Tokyo Olympics

The gaming company has set up a company dedicated to self-driving cabs

This image from a video supplied by Tokyo robotics company ZMP shows a prototype self-driving car at a test track in Japan.

This image from a video supplied by Tokyo robotics company ZMP shows a prototype self-driving car at a test track in Japan.

Mobile games giant DeNA hopes to begin a robot taxi service in Tokyo by 2020, joining Uber Technologies and Google in the race to offer self-driving cabs and cars.

"Our dream is to have some unmanned taxis for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, which would impress people everywhere," Hiroshi Nakajima, a senior vice president at DeNA, said at a news conference Thursday in Tokyo.

The company didn't give details about its plans or set any firm milestones for deployment. But one advantage it has is a partnership with Tokyo robotics company ZMP, which has been developing robot car platforms, sensors and camera technologies for years.

DeNA and ZMP have set up a joint venture, Robot Taxi, that they say is the world's first to be exclusively dedicated to unmanned cab services. Some of its users would include elderly, handicapped and people living in rural areas, ZMP CEO Hisashi Taniguchi said.

While the companies did not provide details about what features the robot taxis would have, Taniguchi said they would likely be in the minivan class, larger and more luxurious than the modified Toyota Prius that ZMP has been testing in the Nagoya area in collaboration with Nagoya University.

That test platform, called RoboCar, was seen in a ZMP video distributed to reporters Thursday. It showed a Prius equipped with sensors on its roof, sides and rear slowly navigating a test track while a man in the driver's seat kept his hands off the wheel.

The Prius is one of the platforms that Google has modified for its self-driving car project, which is entering a new stage. The search engine is poised to bring the first autonomous cars it has built itself onto the roads of Mountain View, California, this summer.

"Safety drivers" are slated to go along for the ride in the Google cars but will only take control if needed.

Ride-hailing app maker Uber is working with Carnegie Mellon University on a research center for self-driving vehicles, it said in February.

While Google is several laps ahead in the robot car race, Nakajima said DeNA's user experience for robot taxis wouldn't be inferior to those of the search engine. DeNA will leverage is know-how in mobile apps to develop various services linked to Robot Taxi, from in-vehicle entertainment to insurance and travel businesses, he added.

Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetGooglenissanroboticsInternet-based applications and servicesDeNAUber TechnologiesZMP

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Hornyak

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?