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Self-driving buses being tested across Japan let you pay with your face

By SoraNews24

Being cautious is certainly wise, but we really seem to be dragging our collective heels when it comes to self-driving vehicles. Considering in Japan reports of cars barreling straight into storefronts seem to happen frequently, it’s hard to imagine even a flawed autonomous driving system doing much worse that humanity as a whole has been.

But steps are being made, and an interesting development has come out of Maebashi City in Gunma Prefecture. More sparsely populated mid-sized cities such as this rely much more on vehicular transport, making it a great testing grounds for a new self-driving bus developed by a council of public transport companies, along with telecom giant NTT Docomo and Gunma University.

Like any autonomous vehicle, the buses are kitted out with sensors to monitor surrounding traffic and signage and EW also synced with traffic information and geographic information systems through a 5G connection. Testing on a route with Maebashi Station and Chuo Maebashi Station is expected to begin this December.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is holding a cross-country testing tour of self-driving buses, along with various regional bus companies. The Hyogo Prefecture leg has just wrapped up in Mita City, in which a six-kilometer route had been run completely without a human driver for about a month between late July and late August.

Well, it was almost completely without a human. A minor software glitch required a human to take over for about four days of the trial run. Nevertheless, of the 1,306 passengers who rode the route, half said it was just as good as a human-driven bus when it came to accelerating and turning smoothly, and a further third said it was even better.

However, when it came to stopping, over half of the passengers described it as “bad” and only a quarter called it as good as a human. So while performance was a mixed bag, most walked away impressed overall.

But perhaps the most appealing feature on both the Maebashi and Mita buses is their “face pass” (kao pass) system in which passengers have their face scanned and registered beforehand so that their account gets charged automatically once their face is detected boarding a bus.

▼ Face pass technology has also been tested on subway gates such as on the Osaka Metro lines.

This can make the technology easier to use for seniors who aren’t comfortable with other forms of electronic payment, since they wouldn’t have to lift a finger. As for the rest of us, this also means an end to standing in line to get off the bus while someone fumbles around for exact change.

Although COVID-19 has led to small changes in scheduling, these test runs are still pushing ahead and the response has been big, with 90 percent of riders on the Kobe test simply there to check it out rather than actually getting from point A to point B. This would suggest that the reality of self-driving buses are probably not too far away.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Kobe Shimbun Next

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Toyota to begin testing Guardian Angel—an invisible driving companion that could save your life

-- Self-driving delivery cars to be used in Japan next year for online shopping

-- China’s new bus design looks like a car-eating monster 【Video】

© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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China-style control though the back door. Slick.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Japan tech the best!

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

^ I agree! I send you a fax with more details

15 ( +15 / -0 )

Who, exactly, is the 'WE' reference alluding to, in terms of 'dragging our feet'? No. It is a rational and reasoned opposition to an unnecessary and somewhat evil push, advertised as an advanced future, which it is not. There is no need for a computerized, laser-guided, fuel cell powered, electric can-opener that sings an aria.

Robot buses. The purpose being exactly WHAT? Eliminating the job of bus driver? Why? Because one individual crashed into a storefront - that's clever but meaningless twaddle offered as a suggestion. And an indicator of a lack of reason.

Who wrote the article, a lobbyist for AI?

Face scans, because it is a boon for old people. That is complete hogwash.

Autonomous driving vehicles. Another push by the Masters of the Universe to craft Land of the Jetsons. A foolish quest, which is another means of generating filthy lucre for an elite cadre who provide unneeded & thoughtless so-called advances which are dangerous and costly.

China, indeed. The cashless totalitarian society. Not a good model.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Watched the video. The face recognition device couldn't identify someone who's wearing a mask. Good luck with that. LOL Which do you want, government? Face recognition technology to track and trace us or people to always wear a mask? Painted yourself into a corner, haven't you. LOL FAIL

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Watched the vid again: Using an IC card is just as fast or faster than going through the gate using face recognition. We don't need it, folks.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Oh no, people are so put out by Ojisan taking a little extra time to find the right coin. Poor you.

And it's so hard to use an IC card anyway, right?

The only beneficiary of this is the companies. Bus drivers will be laid off or not replaced after retirement and this will only increase profits for the capital holders but impoverish communities. Why not just hire someone to help Ojisan load credit onto his IC card and keep bus drivers as they are?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I think there are more problems to solve as right now.

For example jr should put protection doors all stations to minimise the train suicide ... Money is been thrown somewhere where is not needed and I guess is out.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

If you don’t like it then don’t use it! Nobody is forcing whining people to use these services. Like the article mentioned that this new tech can really assist the elderly as it makes life easier for them. I can’t believe that we live in a society where people are so inconsiderate!

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Great reporting! Great article! Wonderful information! Not an iota of misinformation! Great job, Sora News sama!

1 ( +1 / -0 )


If you don’t like it then don’t use it!

Eventually we will HAVE TO use it. That's the problem. Eventually using it or not will not be an option. Technocratic tyranny tip toe..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I can't wait to use someone else's face to pay for my trips! Roll it out nationwide! Hurry!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

So what happens when you are wearing a mask?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many depopulated rural areas are losing their bus systems, which, for many - particularly the elderly - are their only lifeline to shops. Traffic is sparse and slow. This will be both a boon for them and a way to prove the system. Don't look for them in a city near you anytime soon.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good news.

I hope the pandemic outbreak has triggered to boost development of such a IT in Japan to catch up catch up with other counties.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The future of money is...’faces’

I’ll get another for the return trip!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As an avid motorcycle rider and motorcycle commuter who has spent a good part of their life slicing and dicing heavy urban traffic having to share roads with self driving vehicles makes me pucker. At this point I simply don't trust them and don't want to be near one. I also have to wonder how self driving heavy trucks and now it seems buses are going to handle unexpected traffic situations? A human driver develops a feel, sort of a sixth sense or a road sense about developing traffic situations. You just know this one car or truck is about to do something stupid and cause a problem and you are able to anticipate it. You know what I mean, you see the car ahead isn't signaling but you just know they are going to hit the brakes and make a sudden turn. You can feel it in your bones, and you are ready for them. Can driverless vehicles anticipate problems in the same way? I have my doubts.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"Self-driving buses being tested across Japan let you pay with your face"

I thought we already paid through the nose.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I thought we already paid through the nose.

One wonders if this facial recognition tech works with the other set of cheeks?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I find it odd that so many have an unconscious assumption that a person needs to have a job to live. Go back several decades and you'll see that the promise of technology was a Leisure Society, where having machines do labor such as driving a bus, would free up humans.

Ultimately, I think this vision was co-opted by this Work Culture, where the masses have to be grateful just to have a crappy job for mere survival.

I think the masses are going to have to start working together to create that Leisure Society, but that doesn't happen if the only vision we entertain for these new technologies is one where they will be used to enslave us.

We get what we imagine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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