Autonomous driving verification testing progress in Japan

DeNA and Yamato Transport lectures at the TU Automotive Japan 2017



Yamato’s delivery vehicle “Roboneko Yamato” (Source:Yamato Transport)

  The "TU Automotive Japan 2017" event was held in Tokyo in October 2017. This report covers the contents of the lecture given by Hiroshi Nakajima, Executive Officer, SVP, and Director of the Automotive Division of DeNA Co.,Ltd. (hereafter abbreviated as DeNA) , entitled “Shaping the Future of Mobility made Possible by a New Mobility Service Platform,” as well as the lecture given by Kazuo Hatakeyama, Manager, Department of System Development for Network, Division of Network Business Development, Yamato Transport Co., Ltd. (hereafter referred to as Yamato), entitled “Advanced Technology Changing the Future of Logistics.”

 DeNA’s Nakajima introduced various topics regarding the company’s automotive-related businesses, such as its peer-to-peer car sharing service “Anyca” (in operation), verification testing for its autonomous driving compact “Robot Shuttle” bus, and its taxi dispatching app, “TakuBeru” (verification testing concluded). DeNA is also supporting verification testing of Yamato’s “Roboneko Yamato” introduced by Mr. Hatakeyama of Yamato. The “Robot Shuttle” is scheduled to start commercial services as early as 2019.

   As a “mobility service provider,” DeNA will support the development of a new platform that will serve as the base for new mobility solutions, as well as the business model for this platform. Whether with human or autonomous driving, the development of new mobility is unique to DeNA, which is why Nissan, which will soon be conducing verification testing of driverless cars in Japan’s strategic special zones, selected DeNA as its partner based on DeNA’s accomplishments.

  Yamato (as well as Sagawa Express, the second major courier service in Japan), overhauled its pricing structure for the first time in 27 years between October and November 2017. As securing enough drivers has become increasingly difficult in Japan due to nationwide labor shortage, to maintain and expand its courier network and to ensure a healthy working environment for its employees Yamato believes it needed to revise its pricing.

 Conventionally, Yamato has developed personnel in-house. However, Yamato now believes that to support its diversified needs with a declining workforce, it must utilize new technologies. Therefore, for the first time, the company has allied with an external organization, selecting DeNA as its partner.

 Yamato and DeNA have jointly developed the Roboneko Yamato delivery vehicle and delivery system. In April 2017, the companies began a series of road tests that is scheduled to last for a year. By dispatching the Roboneko Yamato at a specified time and place designated by the customer, the two companies are planning to eliminate re-deliveries. Additionally, although humans are currently used to drive the Roboneko Yamato delivery vehicles, there is a limit to the endurance of drivers and the number of delivery routes in conventional courier services, so the two companies are considering to increase the number of women and older drivers. Yamato and DeNA plan to implement autonomous driving in scarcely populated areas and regions where there are a shortage of drivers.

DeNA’s fundamental policy on its automobile-related business
(Source: DeNA’s financial report briefing for individual investors held in November 2017)
Purpose of verification testing for Roboneko Yamato (Source:Yamato)

Related report:Two autonomous driving trends: Level 3 for highways and Level 4 for ordinary roads  (August 2017)


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