Trial operations of a mobility-as-a-service (MaaS) project will start in Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture under the stewardship of Mitsubishi Corporation (MC), which is part of a consortium launching the project.
The "Shiojiri Project" is being undertaken as part of an initiative launched by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to promote new, regional MaaS applications. MC's partners in the consortium include Next Mobility Co, Ltd (Next Mobility) and, the municipal government of Shiojiri City. Next Mobility is a joint venture between MC and Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co, Ltd (NNR).
As a digital transformation experiment in public transportation, the Shiojiri Project will take advantage of an AI-controlled, on-demand bus service called KnowRoute for specified, inter-regional routes, and driverless vehicles for intra-regional routes.
Other than rail, the only means of public transportation in Shiojiri City is a community bus service, but it has been hampered by a lack of drivers, a limited fleet, and other problems.
The city is also aging. About 28% of its roughly 67,000 residents are at least 65 years old, which has led to an even greater need for public transportation. The Shiojiri Project aims to address both of these challenges.
The Shiojiri Project includes KnowRoute system trial and driverless vehicles trial, which are set to commence in the city within this fiscal year.
With an aim to have the former officially up and running from the beginning of fiscal year 2021 or sometime thereafter, the consortium's next move will be to substantiate a regionally optimised implementation plan.
KnowRoute System Trials: The main purpose of these trials will be to assess how practical and effective the KnowRoute system is within specified areas, but they will also define a pricing scheme for future introduction of a dynamic-pricing system, whereby bus fares will vary according to supply and demand.
Driverless Vehicle Trials: The purpose of these trials is to assess the practicality and safety of using driverless vehicles equipped with a remote-monitoring system on the region's public roads. The trials will be performed by consortium members Aisan Technology Co., Ltd. and Tier IV, Inc., the respective providers of the 3D mapping and autopilot systems.
Through this project, MC aims to leverage its expansive network and customer base to build a safe and sustainable, next-generation model for public transportation and offer a convenient mobility service to regions in Japan that are facing challenges in that space.-- Tradearabia News Service