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Registration open for Taxi & Mobility Update April 19-20, 2018 Brussels

Registration open for Taxi & Mobility Update April 19-20, 2018 Brussels

Registration is now open for the sixth Taxi & Mobility Update, which will be held in Brussels on April 19 and 20, 2018 at the Van der Valk Hotel just near Brussels Airport. The key question for this year: ‘Access to the Mobility Market’. Or: Who’s in, who’s out?

You can register here: http://www.mobilityintell.com/registration-update-2018/

The development of new forms of mobility increasingly throws up many questions and challenges. It is becoming a complicated puzzle with many (potential) stakeholders. Who takes care of the first and last mile or kilometre? Who gets access to the mobility market? Who drives mobility innovation?

Most of the stakeholders involved in these questions, we’re bringing together in Brussels on April 19 and 20, 2018 for an extensive exchange of views and intensive networking sessions. This is your opportunity to join, sponsor and network with a high-level international audience of Taxi and
FHV operators, top and middle management, owner-drivers, local, regional and national regulators, government officials, academics, consultants and suppliers.

In previous years around 120 high-level international specialists from all over the world made their way to Amsterdam, where the conference originally started. This year we are expecting at least a 150 highly specialised attendees to come to the Taxi & Mobility Update conference to examine the question who drives tomorrow’s mobility and who gets access to the mobility market.

What can you expect at this annual international English-language mobility conference? You will learn about the latest developments in the Taxi, PHV and mobility world. Get the latest information on:

  • Mobility in urban and rural areas
  • The latest developments in the automotive world
  • Autonomous and connected vehicles
  • The cities of tomorrow
  • E-mobility and Clean Air initiatives
  • The new role of the taxi and FHV industry

At Taxi & Mobility Update 2018 you can address, inform and approach this high-level specialised group of experts about your products and services and, of course, enjoy spring-time in Brussels – a special and surprising destination with much to offer. As a stand-alone conference, running for two days, Taxi & Mobility Update offers many new networking, marketing and PR-opportunities you won’t find at other events..

Network with top speakers and high-level representatives from Europe, USA, Canada, Russia, the Middle-East and many other regions and inform yourself about the latest international Taxi and FHV topics. Communicate with Taxi and FHV operators, regulators, government representatives, trade representatives, consultants and academics and tell them about your products and services. Be ahead of the latest mobility trends.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to contact and inform the opinion leaders in the Taxi PHV and mobility industry! More info? Contact wim.faber@challans-faber.eu

Interested in last year’s presentations? You’ll find them here:


  • This great networking event is only six weeks away!
REGISTRATION: Taxi & Mobility Update 2018

REGISTRATION: Taxi & Mobility Update 2018

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HopSkipDrive raises another $7.4 million for its Uber for kids business

HopSkipDrive raises another $7.4 million for its Uber for kids business

Uber and Lyft have made it easier to get around town, but the service isn’t designed for young people. Unaccompanied passengers under the age of 18 are forbidden from ordering cars.

So how are children supposed to go from one activity to the next when their parents are busy? Well, there’s carpools or nannies, but a ridesharing startup called HopSkipDrive is combining these concepts by hiring drivers that double as caregivers.

It’s been operating in Los Angeles for the past three years and also operates in Orange County and the San Francisco Bay Area. Now the business announced it received $7.4 million in additional funding to fuel its goals. This is on top of the $ 14,1 million raised previously.

The latest financing comes from Student Transportation Inc., which will also be partnering with HopSkipDrive for school bus alternatives. The round also includes participation from existing investors Upfront Ventures and FirstMark Capital.

Greg Bettinelli, a partner at Upfront Ventures and board member at HopSkipDrive said that “by teaming up with school systems they’re not only unlocking massive growth opportunity for the business, they also have potential to help tens of thousands of parents.” HopSkipDrive will also be working with the Los Angeles Office of Education to ensure that foster children are able to get rides to school. Regular users can order rides for just one passenger. Or HopSkipDrive has also been growing its carpooling business, which offers discounted fares.

CEO Joanna McFarland said that she’s especially proud of the screening process of its drivers. “We do far more than most families do to vet a nanny or a babysitter,” she said. “We really set ourselves apart with our dedication to safety.”

She touted a 15-point certification process which she believes is the “strictest in the industry.” Drivers are not only subject to background checks but are also required to have five years of childcare experience. The drivers are 99% female and above the age of 23. They can also double as caregivers after the ride, for an added fee.

  • HopSkipDrive raised another $7.4 million for its Uber for kids business. But its drivers are infinitely better vetted…
ACT shines spotlight on Transportation Management Associations in new publication

ACT shines spotlight on Transportation Management Associations in new publication

Transportation Management Associations (TMAs), unique collaborations between the public and private sector, have been helping communities deliver transportation option that benefit commuters and employers for over 30 years.  With over 100 TMAs operating in dense urban cores, suburban job centers, highway corridors, and residential neighborhoods, the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), believes TMAs play an important role in how communities large and small work to achieve their transportation, sustainability, and economic development goals.

ACT’s newest paper, ‘A better way: Spotlight on Transportation Management Associations’, released recently, digs into the varying reasons for a TMAs establishment and what the community was attempting to achieve through the organization.

The paper features insights from public officials and private sector leaders representing TMAs from across the country and informs us how Austin, TX supported the launch of Movability Austin to address the impacts of rapid growth. “The idea was that we can’t build our way out of our traffic problems and heavily trafficked areas”, said Jim Pledger, Board Chair of Movability Austin.

The paper presents why leaders in the northern Denver suburbs established the Smart Commute Metro North TMO to help spur economic development in an area battling worsening congestion. We hear from the mayor of Salem, Mass., about how the North Shore TMA plays a critical role in spurring broad thinking about sustainability and growth, how North Natomas TMA in Sacramento uses its unique position to foster lasting relationships that improve transportations options, and how GVF (Pennsylvania) leverages its diverse board to be a statewide model for transportation analysis.

“TMAs and TMOs offer unique opportunities for public private partnerships, aggregating the delivery of valuable transportation programs and services that reduce costs for businesses and increase mobility for commuters” said David Straus, Executive Director for ACT.  “We encourage communities around the country to look at TMAs as an impactful strategy for addressing their transportation challenges.

ACT’s TMA Council provides a platform for existing TMAs and individuals and organizations interested in establishing a TMA in their community to share best practices and learn from others that have helped establish TMAs as strong public private partnerships. Read the full paper at: http://actweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/TMA-Spotlights-Final-October-2017.pdf

  • ACT shines spotlight on Transportation Management Associations in new publication.
Uber’s goal is not to operate alongside public transit but to replace It

Uber’s goal is not to operate alongside public transit but to replace It

And that’s exactly what the company is doing in Egypt

Uber’s goal is not to operate alongside public transit but to replace it. And that’s exactly what the company is doing in Egypt.

Uber has built its reputation on being a 21st-century alternative to the taxi. Its supporters praise its lower fares, driver ratings and the convenience of being able to see where one’s driver is located directly on the app. There’s no question that Uber has brought some improvements to the taxi industry, but it would be wrong to believe that that’s where Uber’s ambition ends.

The future of human society is urban. More than half of the world’s population now lives in urban areas — a number that’s expected to reach 66 percent by 2050. And while the number of mega-cities is growing, the majority of that urbanization is due to happen in the developing world. Uber’s service is best suited to urban environments, and the company recognizes that as these cities grow, the nature of transportation will change. Buses and subway systems can move people much more efficiently than individual vehicles, making them a threat to the company’s survival. Uber has no intention of operating alongside public transit; it intends to replace it.

Uber does not seem to have started with the ambitions it has today. The company started small in 2010, offering only black luxury cars on its service, but as its offerings grew, so too did its appetite. The lower-priced uberX, which allows people to offer rides in their own vehicles, was launched in 2012, directly taking on taxi companies, and it was followed in 2014 by uberPOOL, which further lowered prices by allowing drivers to make multiple stops to pick up other passengers along a given route — kind of like a bus.

Its food-delivery service, UberEATS (formerly UberFRESH), was launched at the same time as uberPOOL and quickly expanded across the globe. There’s also UberRUSH, a package-delivery service, and a number of experimental services being run in developing countries that have added water taxis and rickshaws to its app. In 2016, Uber even purchased Otto, a company working on the automation of transport trucks, showing its desire to move into yet another transportation sector.

This isn’t the company’s only investment in self-driving technology, however, and its move toward autonomous vehicles has been fraught with problems. Its self-driving vehicles have been seen running red lights and driving in bike lanes, but probably the biggest issue has been the ongoing Waymo lawsuit over trade secrets that Uber may have acquired from a former engineer the company hired from Waymo. So far, the evidence seems to be on Waymo’s side and could cost Uber more than $1 billion.

But the company has good reason to soldier on toward the autonomous future. Looking at Uber’s financials, transportation expert Hubert Horan identified that Uber’s users pay, on average, only 41 percent of the true cost of their ride—the rest being covered by venture capital — and the only prospect for the company to cut operating costs will be to reduce driver compensation — or eliminate them altogether. In 2014, former CEO Travis Kalanick admitted that his goal was to replace drivers with software to reduce the cost of the service, but recognizing drivers’ concerns, he later qualified his earlier statement to say it wouldn’t happen in the near term.

Uber is taking riders from public transit, which is reducing the quality of transit and could potentially lead to less investment because of lower ridership numbers, creating a downward spiral in Uber’s favor. While replacing drivers would lower costs, it likely would not close the gap that Uber faces. At some point, the company will have to raise its prices, but it has to wait until the last possible moment so it can drive out as many competitors as possible before doing so, and this is where its conflict with public transit arises. As long as transit can provide a cheap, reliable alternative, Uber cannot significantly raise its prices. And that’s why transit is in Uber’s crosshairs.

UC Davis has released a working paper for what appears to be the largest study to date of the impact of ride hailing on urban transportation, and the results aren’t good. The researchers have found that instead of getting cars off the road, ride hailing is just getting people to cancel car-share memberships. Even worse, if there hadn’t been a ride-hailing option, “between 49 and 61 percent of trips either wouldn’t have been made at all or would have been accomplished via transit, bike or foot,” which means that Uber is increasing traffic congestion and emissions in major cities. Streetsblog USA puts the findings in an even starker context: More-affluent people are opting for ride hailing because it’s faster and more reliable than transit. This creates a vicious cycle where additional ride-hailing trips cause more congestion, which slows down transit — a dynamic that has been documented in New York by analyst Bruce Schaller. People who can’t afford an Uber fare are left with even worse bus service.

Uber is taking riders from public transit, which is reducing the quality of transit and could potentially lead to less investment because of lower ridership numbers, creating a downward spiral in Uber’s favor. And the company hasn’t shied away from taking advantage of public transit’s woes. It has already signed agreements with a number of transit agencies in major cities and suburban areas to subsidize Uber rides to transit hubs, and uberPOOL is increasingly resembling a private bus service with “suggested pickup” spots — similar to bus stops — for routes that run along the most popular transit routes. In New York City, Uber is even trying to replace the L train once it shuts down for repairs in 2019.

However, Western cities are not Uber’s only market. It wants to be where the growth is and thus is paying increasing attention to major cities in the developing world. Egypt is not only Uber’s largest market in Africa but one of the company’s fastest-growing markets in the world. As a result, Uber recently opened a $20 million service center in the country to support its operations across the continent, but there’s an even bigger investment that gives a good indication of Uber’s future ambitions.

In developing countries where cities are growing quickly and many governments don’t have the money to meet the transportation needs of its citizens, Uber sees an opportunity to get in early before high-quality systems can be established.

Egypt’s public transit is notoriously poor and has only been getting worse as the country’s budgetary woes have persisted, in part due to decreased tourism in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Uber has decided to take advantage of the growing frustrations of average Egyptians with plans to launch its own bus service and expand its operations from Cairo, Alexandria and Mansoura to other major cities across the country.

The full details of the service have not yet been released, but there can be no denying that this could be Uber’s first step toward becoming the private alternative to public transit in cities around the world. The challenge is greater in major Western cities, but in developing countries where cities are growing quickly and many governments don’t have the money to meet the transportation needs of its citizens, Uber sees an opportunity to get in early before high-quality systems can be established.

Continue reading:


  • How about an Uber instead of the bus?
How to win in the autonomous taxi space

How to win in the autonomous taxi space

The promise of self-driving cars is to create a world where anyone, anywhere can summon a car and travel safely to their destination, at close to zero cost.

Mobility is a space that has traditionally been operated by city governments at low cost for low convenience, or by private companies at a high cost for high convenience. With the advent of on-demand mobility players like Uber and Lyft, which looked to disrupt the traditionally high cost of taxi services, consumers have benefited from lower costs. However, automation through self-driving technology will cause massive disruption to this industry of personal mobility with the variable cost of transportation declining to almost nothing. Companies creating autonomous taxi fleets have a unique opportunity to define and lead this shift toward virtually free and ubiquitous transportation.

Personal mobility is a huge space with many incumbents vying for market share. Below is a map covering some of the major players currently operating in the space. The landscape includes both autonomous/regular taxi services, as well as on-demand/public transport services.

Firms that charge relatively low prices and offer substantial differentiation are following a best-cost strategy. This strategy is difficult to execute, but it is also potentially very rewarding. Self-driving taxi companies are creating one of the most compelling executions of this strategy, by offering the lowest-cost transportation at the highest convenience. However, some of the major challenges they will need to address are around technology, regulation, business models and distribution.

The tech to enable fully driverless cars is already here, and the next few years will see huge advances in these systems. Additionally, owing to the fact that self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives, it is high on the agenda of lawmakers to quickly finalize regulation to allow these vehicles on the roads.

Autonomous taxi firms will innovate with new business models such as advertising, sponsorships, in-car services and more to allow them to drive costs of transport to almost zero, offsetting the variable costs with these additional revenue streams. Finally, of all these challenges, only distribution remains the biggest hurdle to existing incumbents and new entrants in the space to be able to create a competitive advantage to win.

As the autonomous taxi space continues to get crowded even at this early stage before any full rollouts, companies will need to understand the competitive landscape, with operators across the entire value chain. It is expected that soon consumers will no longer buy cars and instead treat transportation and personal mobility as a public utility just like electricity, water and the internet. This dynamic will significantly change how suppliers and vendors in the space consider their existing business models.

Major automakers are keen to avoid the same fate of telecoms being relegated to “dumb pipes” because of the advent of mobile internet and over the top communications, and are now committed to deploying their own self-driving taxi fleets as they adapt their strategies to move away from being manufacturers to becoming service providers. As a result, players in this space will need to create significant competitive barriers and moats around their business models to fend off not only incumbents but also new entrants.

The way that an autonomous taxi firm can create sustainable competitive barriers and win in this space is by deploying the largest fleet of self-driving taxis as soon as possible and by creating cyclical economies of scale on both the supply side and demand side (network effects).

Players in the space should create supply-side economies of scale by partnering with tier 1 automotive manufacturers to drive down costs of vehicle manufacturing, and by exploring additional revenue streams to offset the cost of transport.

To create cyclical network effects through increased distribution, players should partner with city/government bodies to become the fleet operator of choice. This would be a powerful way to create lock-in and distribution and a way to become the default option for riders in cities across the world.

Ali Ahmed is a tech entrepreneur with expertise in on-demand mobility and robotics.

Continue reading…



  • Self-driving ecosystem value chain (Ahmed, 2017)
Uber’s strategy teardown: The giant looks to an autonomous future, food delivery, and tighter financial discipline

Uber’s strategy teardown: The giant looks to an autonomous future, food delivery, and tighter financial discipline

A must-read: CB Insights put together a brilliant overview of Uber as it operates today and its (possible) plans for tomorrow.

The $68B gorilla continues to expand globally in places like India and Brazil and is still chasing autonomous driving. However, it will have to stem its losses ahead of an eventual IPO, which may lead to rollbacks in contested regions like Southeast Asia.

Uber is known for many things, but one thing that has remained constant is its ability to steal the spotlight. Once the darling of tech media, one of Silicon Valley’s most lauded growth stories, and the progenitor of an entire category of on-demand startups, Uber’s tumultuous 2017 has seen the company’s fortunes shift almost overnight.

Scandal after scandal brought accusations of everything from misogyny to intellectual property theft. This has turned the executive ranks of the world’s most valuable private startup into a revolving door. An exodus of senior leadership was capped by an investor revolt against co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, who had been virtually synonymous with the company and its famously aggressive culture.

New chief executive and former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is just weeks into his new role, but faces pivotal decisions on how best to repair the company’s battered image and right the ship strategically. With a stated target of taking Uber public within the next 18-36 months, Khosrowshahi must strike a balance between financial discipline while also maintaining the growth and opportunity narrative that seduced investors and helped give Uber its lofty valuation.

Under new management, Uber’s strategies in both international markets and key fields of research like autonomous vehicles are open to revision. Key takeaways from our analysis focus on the company’s major initiatives:

* Balancing “paying the bills” and “big shots”: Uber’s new CEO committed to both instilling financial discipline ahead of a potential IPO and remaining invested in major forward-looking initiatives (such as autonomous vehicles). Aside from the considerable task of repairing the company’s damaged image and culture, finding a balance between these goals will be his major challenge going forward.

* Uber rethinks global strategy: Uber’s growth ambitions have begun shifting away from the pugnacious, attack-on-all-fronts strategy and indiscriminate spending of its earlier years, although the company’s latest financials continue to show a growing top-line as well as considerable cash burn. Our jobs listing analysis reveals that the company is still actively hiring in India, Brazil and Mexico. However, with a stated vision of taking Uber public within the next 18-36 months, Khosrowshahi may look to further narrow the focus on Uber’s efforts abroad to rein in money-losing efforts. Southeast Asia is one hotly-contested region where the company is spending heavily against the well-financed Grab and Go-Jek.

* Recent dealmaking focuses on divesting costly regional operations: Uber has withdrawn from its China and now Eastern European operations, retaining a significant stake in both while ceasing involvement in day-to-day operations. The company has now established a template that it can return to should it decide to draw down losses in other geographies.

* M&A to date has emphasized mapping and AI/AVs (autonomous vehicles): A late entrant into the now-fierce race to develop AVs, Uber has turned to M&A to bridge the gap in related competencies such as mapping and artificial intelligence. Its highest-profile deal to date was its acquisition of self-driving truck startup Otto, headed by Google Self-Driving Car (now Waymo) veteran Anthony Levandowski. That acquisition has led the company into a potentially devastating lawsuit with Waymo.

* AI, AVs remain a priority: Despite the upheaval in the wake of Waymo’s lawsuit, Uber is still hiring actively for its autonomous vehicle development group (Advanced Technologies Group or ATG). The unit comprises 6% of Uber’s total job listings, with the company seeking talent in the white-hot field of autonomous vehicle engineering. Uber also added a prominent AI researcher to lead a new ATG self-driving team. However, the unit’s long-term future is in doubt, with the Waymo lawsuit a looming threat and ATG requiring a sizable and sustained financial investment.

* Uber scales back other side ventures, focusing on food delivery: Outside of its core ride-hailing business, the company has retrenched in its once-hyped UberRUSH courier service effort, focusing on meal delivery platform UberEATS instead. The company continues to push UberEATS into new markets. Uber is also pursuing significant talent to support its food delivery service; 14% of the company’s open job listings mention UberEATS in the title. Uber has also recently launched its Freight service targeting the trucking brokerage market, but the new initiative has yet to gain meaningful traction.

Continue reading…. https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/uber-strategy-teardown-expert-research/?utm_source=CB+Insights+Newsletter&utm_campaign=0c8203cf06-FriNL_9_8_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_9dc0513989-0c8203cf06-87434465

  • Uber looks to the autonomous future.
Alphabet is reportedly mulling a $1B investment in Lyft

Alphabet is reportedly mulling a $1B investment in Lyft

It’s about as good a timing as any for Lyft to capitalize on the tidal wave of negative publicity that Uber is facing right now, and it looks like it might end up with a significant investment from Alphabet in the middle of that train wreck, according to a report by Axios.

That’s not to say that this is directly related to Uber, which has a new CEO and is trying to move on from the disaster of the past few months. Still, Alphabet appears to be discussing a $1 billion investment in Lyft in an effort led by CEO Larry Page, according to the report. Lyft last raised $600 million at a $7.5 billion valuation in April.

This would be an interesting move for Google, which invested in Uber early in its life through its investment arm GV. We’d heard some murmurs of something brewing between Alphabet and Lyft for a few weeks, but it was unclear what the outcome would be. Bloomberg also reported the news this afternoon. In the end, it appears that Lyft may get a big infusion of cash to fuel its efforts to pick away at Uber — especially as it appears primed to begin its move internationally, according to a report from The Information.

A big financing round like this would go a long way for Lyft, which can use the capital to provide aggressive driver and rider benefits through promotions. Lyft may have an opportunity to snag momentum away from Uber in key cities by ramping up in marketing and discounts. That is an expensive proposition, to be sure, but Lyft also has the benefit of the wave of troubles Uber has had recently. Such a large investment would also help Lyft remain independent.

Alphabet’s self-driving division, Waymo, has been fighting with Uber in court over allegations of theft of files. Earlier this week, a judge ruled that Uber had to turn over to Waymo the due diligence report for its acquisition of Otto.

Lyft announced that it had begun self-driving car development in earnest in July, saying it would ramp up hiring and had signed a lease for a big Palo Alto facility.

Representatives from Google and Lyft have not yet responded to requests for comment.

Continue reading…


  • Will Google (Alphabet) be investing in Lyft?
The car-sharing paradox: fewer cars, more traffic

The car-sharing paradox: fewer cars, more traffic

Car-sharing, if and when it booms, will have major effects on the way we travel. Some effects will be paradoxical. A recent study by PwC predicts fewer cars… but much more traffic, FleetEurope found.

“Within a few years, the present norm under which most people drive their own car will be just one mobility concept among many”, predicts PwC expert Christoph Stuermer. Analysts predict substantial growth for the various formulas – present and future – that go under the heading ‘car-sharing’.

This would drastically reduce the need for individually-owned vehicles. The PwC study projects that a significant increase in car-sharing could lead to a reduction in the overall fleet in Europe by 80 million units – from 280 million today to 200 million by 2030.

PwC foresees an increased degree of sophistication in the delivery of car-sharing services, which in future will be as accessible in rural areas as they already are (or theoretically can be) in urban environments today. As a consequence, up to a third of Europe’s total mileage could be performed by shared vehicles.

More shared vehicles means less vehicles: an earlier study by HERE posits that one shared car removes the need for 14 private cars. Counter-intuitively, less vehicles would not mean less traffic.

In fact, the PwC study predicts, Europe’s roads will be even busier than today, as shared vehicles will be used much more often than individually-owned vehicles. A shared car tallies up around 58,000 km/y – about as much as a taxi – while a private car averages about 13,200 km/y.

Further amplifying the intensification of traffic via car-sharing will be another megatrend – autonomous driving. When fully autonomous, vehicles will be able to drive without anyone on board, for example on their way to pick up passengers. This obviously adds to the weight of (people) traffic already out there.

High-intensity car-sharing will also have a major impact on overall vehicle life-cycles. Due to their increased usage, shared cars will have to be replaced much earlier – PwC estimates a replacement every 3.9 years rather than the current average of 17.3 years.

Such high turnover provides a silver lining for manufacturers: what they lose in overall volume, they gain (at least partially) in faster turnover. The study predicts a 33% rise in the number of new cars by 2030, to 24 million units.

All manufacturers, big or small, will have to think long and hard about the impact of car-sharing on their business model, their product range, their investment strategy. Still, says PwC, the reduction in overall volume could become problematic for the smaller manufacturers who lack critical mass and who could find themselves squeezed out of the market as a consequence.

Continue reading…


  • Does car-sharing mean more cars on the road or less?
Japan trials driverless cars to help elderly people get around in rural areas

Japan trials driverless cars to help elderly people get around in rural areas

As the annual rice harvest begins this month in the Japanese town of Nishikata, the combines that usually putter along the sleepy roads lining its rice fields are giving way to a vehicle residents have never before seen, a driverless shuttle bus.

Japan is starting to experiment with self-driving buses in rural communities such as Nishikata, 115 km (71 miles) north of the capital, Tokyo, where elderly residents struggle with fewer bus and taxi services as the population ages and shrinks.

The swift advance of autonomous driving technology is prompting cities such as Paris and Singapore to experiment with such services, which could prove crucial in Japan, where populations are not only greying, but declining, in rural areas. Japan could launch self-driving services for remote communities by 2020, if the trials begun this month prove successful.

The government plans to turn highway rest stops into hubs from which to ferry the elderly to medical, retail and banking services.

“Smaller towns in Japan are greying even faster than cities, and there are just not enough workers to operate buses and taxis,” said Hiroshi Nakajima of mobile gaming software maker DeNA, which has branched into automotive software. “But there are a lot of service areas around the country, and they could serve as a hub for mobility services,” added Nakajima, the firm’s automotive director.

In the initial trials of the firm’s driverless six-seater Robot Shuttle, elderly residents of Nishikata, in Japan’s Tochigi prefecture, were transferred between a service area and a municipal complex delivering healthcare services. The town mirrors Japan’s population profile, with roughly a third of its 6,300 residents aged 65 or more, up from about a quarter four years ago, while the population overall has shrunk 4.5 percent.

Daily bus services are limited to just a handful. “I worry about not being able to go out when I’m no longer able to drive,” said one test rider, Shizu Yuzawa, adding that she would be open to using such a service.

Continue reading…


  • Japan’s Robot Shuttle, developed by DeNa Co is on trial in Nishikata.