Travellers flying with All Nippon Airways (ANA) at Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport could soon find themselves being transported by driverless buses with the carrier now conducting trials of the automated vehicles.
The Japanese airline will be running tests until January 25 at a restricted area of the airport and, if deemed successful, they could lead to the implementation of driverless passenger buses at the airport by 2020.
“This autonomous bus will help ease the flow of traffic in the airport and help enhance the travelling experience for passengers,” said Shigeru Hattori, senior vice president of ANA regarding the trial.
The tests build on previous trials conducted by the carrier back in February 2018, and will also be complemented by tests conducted at Tokyo Narita, Sendai, and Nagoya Airports.
The driverless buses work by reading magnetic trackers that are embedded into the ground using sensors located onboard the vehicle that help guide it along its route. GPS positioning is also used to help direct the bus.
Travellers that find the idea of being transported by an automated bus unsettling can take solace in the fact that there will still be a driver present onboard. The operators are provided with data in real time that allows them to evaluate the interior and exterior of the bus and, if necessary, take control of the vehicle themselves.
“In addition to boosting convenience, the autonomous bus will also allow for safer travel within the airport and we will continue the tests until the technology reaches our high safety grade,” added Hattori.
ANA has been putting resources into other technological developments focused on improving passenger experience. These notably include plans to develop of a mobile app designed to reduce the effects of jet lag.