The Mobility Services Business in Japan and Automated Driving Technology

Relief for people without access to transportation and advances in commercial mobility services

2018/03/15

Summary

Like other advanced countries, the Japanese market has seen the active development of new mobility services businesses such as ride sharing and car sharing. This movement is being promoted by companies that view changes in user values, symbolized by the shift from ownership to sharing, as a business opportunity to be capitalized upon. In addition, the development of mobility services is receiving increased attention as a means of solving social problems such as providing relief for people without access to transportation in areas of Japan with declining populations. Similarly, the development of automated driving technology has progressed to the point where it is expected to contribute the realization of new mobility services that combine automated driving and ride sharing services.

Robot Shuttle (Source: DeNA) Milee (Automotive World 2018)
The Milee was jointly developed with Aisan Technology, Okaya, and Tier IV based on a Yamaha electric golf cart platform


This report deals with both the creation of mobility services business using automatic driving technology, with the involvement of government at the national and local municipal levels in Japan, as well as by new entrants to the industry such as existing automakers, suppliers, and mobility service providers.


Related Report:
Toyota Automated Driving: The Guardian and Chauffeur approaches (Mar. 2018)
Nissan: Connected strategy in the age of autonomous cars (Jan. 2018)
Autonomous driving verification testing progress in Japan (Jan. 2018)
New mobility and the shift from ownership to sharing (1): What does the future hold? (Feb. 2017)
New mobility and the shift from ownership to sharing (2): Rising pressure to change (Feb. 2017)



Mobility services business progress in the public and private sectors

At the national and municipal levels in Japan, governments have shifted their emphasis in the utilization of automated driving technology from solving issues such as reducing the number of traffic accidents and alleviating traffic congestion through the application of Intelligent Transport System (ITS) technology, to tackling social issues such as providing relief for people without access to transportation. Governments are now focused on topics such as 1) selecting the sites to be used for field testing, 2) building the testing infrastructure, and 3) preparing experimental vehicles. One result of these efforts will be the clarification of the operational specifications required to enable the continuity of mobility services as a business, such as the reduction of labor costs.

Automakers in Japan are promoting the development of automated driving technology as advanced driver-assistance technology to reduce the number of traffic accidents and alleviate traffic congestion while, in parallel, 1) targeting the development of new business models that leverage the strengths of automakers, and 2) promoting activities that allow them to gather and accumulate the know-how of existing mobility service providers.

Japanese parts suppliers, including tier 1 suppliers, are focused on the development of the elemental technologies required for the commercialization of automated vehicles, rather than on becoming new mobility service providers themselves.

Companies leading the advancement of the mobility services business are exploring new business models to respond to changes being seen in user lifestyles and values, including 1) the clarification of automated driving features and control specifications and 2) the acquisition and accumulation of the know-how to run a mobility services business.

 

Activity content
Solving tasks and achieving targets Realizing technology development
Key Activities Country
Municipality
Clarification and verification of methods to solve "Social Issues" by field testing
*Social Issues: Reduction of traffic accidents, elimination of traffic congestion, providing relief to people without access to transportation
Road infrastructure maintenance
Experimental vehicle preparation
Information system construction (vehicle control, experimental data acquisition and analysis)
Automakers Construction of business models that fully leverage the strengths of automakers Development of automated vehicles
Acquisition and accumulation of operational know-how
Suppliers Clarification and verification of required elemental technical specifications Element technology development (parts development)
Mobility, IT, venture companies, etc. Clarification and verification of business models that correspond to changes in user lifestyles and values Development of automated driving features and control specifications
Acquisition and accumulation of operational know-how


National and local government initiatives: Creating mobility service businesses to give relief to people without access to transportation

The Cabinet Office is engaged in field testing of its Automated Driving System, an initiative of its Strategic Innovation Program (SIP). The objective of the initiative is mainly to verify automated driving technology for the deployment of mobility services.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT, Road Bureau) are working to establish business models for its Last Mile Automated Driving project in four driving scenarios; "urban areas", "depopulated areas", "tourist spots" and "community buses;" with the aim of controlling costs and the eliminating driver shortages. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) is responsible for leading this initiative, which includes participants like Yamaha Motors and SB Drive.

The Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT, Road Bureau) is sponsoring the development of automated driving services, such as the establishment of Road Stations, to provide users with access to transportation and promote the flow of goods in rural areas with rapidly aging and declining populations. Thirteen sites in Japan have been designated for conducting road tests of these automated driving services. DeNA, Advanced Smart Mobility, Yamaha Motors, and Aisan Technology will provide the experimental vehicles.

The project to develop automated driving services based on concepts such as automated driving for the last mile and road stations is seen primarily as a means to solve the technical challenges associated with applying automated driving technology to provide a means of transportation to people without access as well as to tailor automated driving services to the unique local needs of an area. Project participants also expect to be able to accumulate the know-how required to create a viable business model.

 

Cabinet Office Large scale field testing of automated driving systems is led by the Strategic Innovation Program (SIP)
- Purpose: Real-world driving verification of technologies such as advanced three-dimensional maps (dynamic maps) which are under development as part of the SIP's Automatic Driving System program
Field testing of self-driving buses (Okinawa)
- Purpose: Advanced three dimensional maps, GPS, automated stops using artificial intelligence (AI), and real-world driving verification of obstacle avoidance technology
METI and MLIT
(Automobile Station)
Last mile automated driving
- Mobility services using automated vehicles over short distances, such as between the nearest station or bus stop and the user's home or final destination
- To provide users in depopulated areas with access to transportation, reduce management costs, and eliminate driver shortages
- The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has been entrusted to conduct field testing of 4 models of automated driving systems for "urban areas", "depopulated areas", "tourist spots" and "community buses"
Cabinet Office and MLIT
(Road Stations)
Automated driving service using Road Stations etc. in sparsely populated rural areas
- The offices plan to implement Road Stations, etc. in sparsely populated rural areas affected by aging populations and depopulation as a social experiment involving automated driving services to provide users with access to transportation and increase the flow of goods.
- Field testing will take place in 5 areas designated as "regional specific", mainly to conduct technical evaluations, and 8 areas designated as "public support" to solve unique local problems.

 

Last mile automated driving

出典:国土交通省自動運転戦略本部
Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), Automated Driving Strategy Headquarters, Released: June 8, 2017

In 2007, the Last Mile Automated Driving project was launched by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT, Road Bureau). AIST has been entrusted with leading the project as secretariat, and is conducting field tests in cooperation with Yamaha Motors who provides small EV carts, and SB Drive who provides small EV buses for verification testing.

In 2020, AIST aims to promote the development of the necessary automated vehicle technology to realize mobility services to solve the one last mile issue by establishing four business models for "urban areas", "depopulated areas", "tourist spots" and "community buses".

 

 

Urban area model Wajima City, Ishikawa Prefecture was selected to conduct demonstration experiments aimed at "creating a town where elderly people can move freely" using small carts.
Depopulated area model Eiheiji Town in Fukui Prefecture was selected to conduct demonstration experiments using small carts with the aim of creating a futuristic image of the prefecture and the town of Eiheiji.
Tourist spot model Chatan-cho, Okinawa Prefecture was selected to conduct demonstration experiments that including the operation of small carts via a remote control center.
Community buses Hitachi City, Ibaraki prefecture was selected to conduct demonstration experiments of a community bus transportation system using small buses that travel in a dedicated lane.

 

Automated driving services using Road Stations, etc. in sparsely populated rural areas

The Japanese government is targeting to introduce automated driving services such as Road Stations by 2020 as social measures to provide access to transportation and promote the flow of goods in sparsely populated rural areas with aging and declining populations. Mobility service solutions such as Road Stations are designed to provide users with access to transportation using unmanned vehicles that travel on a 4 to 5 kilometer route, on a predetermined schedule or that can be hailed on demand using a dedicated smartphone app, to take residents from their homes to destinations such as hospitals and government offices.

Such mobility services are expected to provide people with a means of getting around and to support the flow of goods, which would include parcel delivery services and services related to the distribution of agricultural products. Four companies have been selected to provide experimental vehicles: DeNA, Advanced Mobility, Yamaha Motors, and Aisan Technology.

出典:国土交通省自動運転戦略本部 出典:国土交通省
Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), Automated Driving Strategy Headquarters, Released: June 8, 2017 Source: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), Released: July 31, 2017


Field testing will be conducted in a number of locations dotted throughout Japan. Field testing locations have been designated as "regional specific", where mainly technical evaluations are conducted such as the verification of automated driving in snowy conditions, and "public support" locations to explore business models to solve unique local problems. In total, 13 places in 8 regional areas have been selected for field testing. In addition, five "feasibility study" (FS) locations have been selected to advance the realization of mobility service business models.

 



Activities of mobility service companies: Responding to changes in lifestyles and user values

This section focuses on three companies, DeNA, ZMP and SB Drive, whose activities in Japan in the field of mobility services are conspicuous, the most recent of which are summarized in the table below.

Demonstration experiments, etc.
DeNA * Operating an automated bus service on the Ito campus of Kyushu University
   - In collaboration with NTT DoCoMo, developing a control system to ensure pedestrian safety and an on-demand bus service
* In collaboration with Yamato Transport, conducting field tests of a delivery dispatch service for the age of automated driving
   - Uses delivery EVs equipped with storage boxes (currently underway in Fujisawa city)
* Public demonstration experiment of the new Easy Ride unmanned vehicle transportation service with Nissan Motor in the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama (March, 2018)
* Participation in project sponsored by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (MLIT) for automated driving using Road Stations, etc. in sparely populated rural areas
ZMP * In collaboration with DeNA, conducted field tests of the Robo Taxi (February 2016)
* Field testing of its delivery robot "CarriRo Delivery"
   - Working with the "Gin no Sara" sushi chain on automated delivery
   - Automated courier / document delivery service in Roppongi Hills
   - Automated delivery services such as Yu-Pack for the Japan postal system
* Field testing of remote monitoring services for automated driving systems (Odaiba)
   - Collaborating with Hinomaru Transportation targeting the realization of an unmanned taxi service in 2020
SB Drive * The "ARMA" vehicle was provided by NAVYA of France for SB Drive's feasibility experiment of a self-driving shuttle bus in Kamishihoro Town, Hokkaido
* Inaugurated the "Realization Conference of safety and reliable self-driving bus" (December 2017)
* Participated in a Cabinet Office test trial of self-driving buses in Okinawa
* Participated in the Last Mile Automated Driving System demonstration project sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT)

 

DeNA is promoting a wide range of mobility services-related activities including participation in national projects, innovation of logistics services through cooperative development with Yamato Transport, development of a new unmanned transportation service platform in cooperation with Nissan and operation of its mobility service, allowing it to accumulate a wealth of know-how related to providing mobility services.

ZMP has accumulated a significant amount of know-how through a series of demonstration experiments for delivery services using its CarriRo Delivery logistics support robots. In addition, ZMP's effort to develop a ride-hailing app in collaboration with taxi companies such as Hinomaru Transportation is receiving attention as a means to realize "unmanned taxi" services in the future.

SB Drive is promoting activities to accumulate the know-how to operate mobility services using small automated shuttles and local circuit buses, along with participating in national projects.

 



Activities of automakers: Survival through creation of new business models

Major automakers are currently involved in initiatives to enter the mobility services business by entering into partnerships with existing providers to acquire and accumulate the know-how to manage mobility services such as car sharing and ride sharing. Toyota started field testing of its single seat EV "Ha:mo" in collaboration with Uber. Nissan operates the car sharing services "Choi Mobi" and "e-share Mobi". Honda is considering the introduction of motorcycle sharing services in collaboration with Grab.

Automakers have been establishing organizations to strengthen their mobility services including the development of services in collaboration with mobility service companies. Toyota plans to establish a mobility services company (head office: Tokyo) in April 2018. Also, with Mazda, Toyota is building alliances for the development of mobility services in collaboration with e-Palette Alliance partners such as Amazon, Uber, and DiDi. Nissan partnered with DeNA to conduct public road tests of automated driving services.

 

Car sharing / ride sharing Automated driving services-related information
Toyota * Ha:mo is a personal mobility car sharing service (single seat EV). Currently undergoing field testing in Tokyo, Okinawa, Okayama, and Toyota City.
* Started to evaluate collaboration with Uber in ride sharing zones
* Announced the purpose-built e-Palette Concept EV for mobility services at the CES 2018
   - Releasing its Mobility Service Platform (MSPF), an open control vehicle interface, to the Alliance development partners as an automated driving kit.
   - Expects the e-Palette to be used for various mobility services such as ride-sharing, parcel delivery, and on-the-road e-commerce.
* Unveiled its future vision of becoming a mobility service provider. Amazon, Pizza Hut, Uber, DiDi, Mazda are partners in the e-Palette Alliance.
* Announced its mobility services company (head office: Tokyo) will be established in April 2018
Nissan * Will restart field testing of the Choi Mobi micro EV car sharing service in Yokohama.
* Has launched the Nissan e-share Mobi car sharing service. The service, using the LEAF and the Note e-POWER, plans to operate in 30 locations in 9 prefectures.
* Partnered with DeNA to start developing automated driving mobility services (January 2017)
* Developed the Easy Ride automated driving mobility service in collaboration with DeNA.
   - The two companies plan to conduct public field tests of Easy Ride in the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama in March 2018 (for the time being with auxiliary drivers)
   - Use of a dedicated app to set destinations, summon vehicles, and pay the fare.
   - Also plans to accumulate driving know-how with its remote monitoring system.
Honda * Invested in Southeast Asia's Grab to explore collaboration for motorcycle sharing services
* Started "EveryGo", a new style rental car service (November 2017)
   - Provides services combining car sharing features for rental cars
   - Cars are borrowed at its unmanned station using an IC card driver's license
* Honda introduced the EV commuter concept car "Honda NeuV" at CES 2017
   - Equipped with a driver assist feature using AI that recognizes a driver's stress level
   - The system learns information about the driver's lifestyle and preferences and realizes natural communication
   - With the permission of the owner, the automated vehicle is used for ride sharing
Mazda - * Participating in Toyota's e-Palette Alliance for the development of mobility services
Subaru * Subaru's president stated that Subaru needs to conduct research on car sharing, but only after vehicle electrification and environmentally friendly cars. -



Toyota: e-Palette Concept EVs for mobility services

Toyota e-Palette Concept
(CES 2018)

Toyota announced the e-Palette Concept EV for mobility services at the CES 2018. The e-Palette is a shuttle type EV is equipped with automated driving technology that looks like a small bus. There are three sizes of the e-Palette Concept, with different lengths depending on the purpose-built specifications of the cargo areas. Equipment can be installed in accordance with the needs of its mobility service Alliance partners, such as ride sharing specifications, hotel specifications, and retail shopping specifications. The e-Palette Concept features a flat and extensive barrier-free interior space layout designed with a low floor and cube-shaped design.


The e-Palette Concept reflects Toyota's resolve to reinvent itself from being an "automaker" to becoming a "mobility service provider" with the features described below.

  • The open vehicle control interface of the e-Pallet allows partner companies to install their own automated driving system and vehicle management technology.
  • With Toyota's Mobility Service Platform (MSPF) partners can receive open Application Programming Interface (API) such as vehicle state and vehicle control, necessary for the development of automated driving systems.

In this way, Toyota is partnering with service providers and technology development companies in an open relationship to contribute to the creation of new mobility services based on the e-Palette Concept. To promote the construction of the MSPF, Toyota has partnered initially with Amazon, Uber, DiDi, Pizza Hut, and Mazda.

(Source: TOYOTA Global Newsroom) (Source: TOYOTA Global Newsroom)



Nissan: Started field testing of the Easy Ride unmanned vehicle mobility service

Easy Ride
Source: Nissan news release

 

Nissan and DeNA formed a partnership in January 2017 to collaborate on the development of the new Easy Ride mobility service that uses autonomous driving technology. With "more freedom of mobility" as its concept, Easy Ride is envisioned as a service for anyone who wants to travel freely to their destination of choice in a robo-vehicle using a dedicated mobile app to complete the whole process from setting destinations and summoning vehicles to paying the fare. In addition, Nissan and DeNA plan to offer vehicle remote monitoring services with control centers to manage and support safe driving even in unmanned vehicles.

Nissan will be responsible for developing EV-based vehicles equipped with the latest autonomous driving technology, while DeNA will be in charge of developing and operating driverless mobility services using its expertise in the internet and artificial intelligence. Public field tests will be conducted in the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama for 2 weeks from March 5 to 18, 2018. Through this partnership, Nissan and DeNA expect to accumulate the know-how required to enable the continuity of mobility services as a business.

 



Direction of the mobility services business: Relief for people without access to transportation and the deployment of automated vehicle fleets for commercial applications

The mobility services business using automated vehicle technology is expected to take two directions in the foreseeable future, as follows:

  • Mobility services will be developed aimed at providing mobility solutions primarily for people without access to transportation, solutions that take into consideration the unique features of a local area.
  • The deployment of automated vehicle fleets for commercial applications will increase as businesses seize the opportunity to capitalize on the market demand resulting from the changes being seen in user values.


At present it is unclear whether the specifications of automated vehicles used in the future to provide automate driving services will be purpose-built specifications or whether there will be efforts to develop standardized specifications.


One trend that can be discerned by Toyota's announcement of the e-Pallette Concept is that companies such as Microsoft, who have led the conventional personal computer industry by providing operating systems (OS), will most likely take a commanding role in the mobility services business. Thus, Toyota's strategy to embrace mobility services as a core element of its overall business seems to be based upon a sense of crisis for the automotive industry in light of the advances being made in the deployment of automated driving technology. This movement to develop mobility service platforms and provide them to mobility service companies is likely to strengthen among Japanese as well as European and U.S. automakers.

 


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Keywords
Mobility, ridesharing, car sharing, last mile, automated driving, DeNA, ZMP, SB Drive, Toyota, e-Palette, Nissan, Easy Ride

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