News Article

Rakuten and Yamato plan Japanese public road tests for delivery robots

Tech startup ZMP and Panasonic onboard with project

Yamato Transport and Rakuten have partnered with the Japanese government to test unmanned delivery robots on public roads.

Next week, the government will set up a public and private sector council of officials to identify potential issues, including liability for accidents and how to maintain security.

The team will also examine operating regulations that could be attached to the Road Traffic Act at long last.

The drones are expected to relieve the labor shortage in Japan’s logistics industry and generate fresh company possibilities.

To deliver products without human interference, the drones are fitted with sensors and GPS. Tests are planned to be completed by March 2020.

Members of the Council will include representatives from Mitsubishi Estate real estate developer, Japan Post, Panasonic equipment manufacturer, and ZMP, a Tokyo-based technology firm.

The committee will also be attended by officials from the National Police Agency, Ministry of Lands, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and local authorities.

The quickly increasing internet retail industry has placed stress on global logistics activities that are endangered by employment shortages.

In China, robot shipments were introduced by major e-tailer JD.com, while U.S. company Starship Technologies launched robot pizza delivery facilities in the UK and Germany.

Japan feels the heat as it intensifies the fight for electronic shipping technology.

The government will use the experiments to set the legal framework for drones working on public highways. This is probable to include revising the Road Traffic Act, which deems shipping machines to be self-driving vehicles and is therefore not permitted to function on government highways or benches.

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