Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) will carry out trials for a self-driving electric bus at Haneda International Airport (HND) from today until the end of the month.
The bus will travel the same 1.9km (1.18 mile) segment of restricted area at Haneda Airport multiple times throughout the testing period. During the test, the bus will be evaluated based on its ability to “perform the conditional automation with little human oversight”.
In automated driving systems, conditional automation refers is the third level of automation behind high automation (level 4) and full automation (level 5).
ANA added that it plans to implement the autonomous electric buses at Haneda International Airport by the end of this year if testing is successful.
The airline is collaborating with three companies for the trial: SoftBank subsidiary SB Drive that focuses on autonomous vehicles, Japanese company Advanced Smart Mobility that seeks to provide comfortable travel options for both abled and disabled passengers using “advanced mobile technologies; and Chinese high-tech company BYD.
“Once fully implemented, the autonomous electric bus will allow us to provide a more convenient transit experience for our passengers while also improving efficiency for our airport staff. As sustainability has always been a priority for ANA, we will continue looking for opportunities to make our products and services more eco-friendly,” said Shinzo Shimizu, senior executive vice president of ANA.
ANA and SB Drive first began trials for the driverless bus in 2018, with SB Drive providing the advanced “Dispatcher” technology that oversees safety functions by monitoring for obstacles and potential hazards.
Buses are not the only transport method that ANA is seeking to automate. In October, the company expanded trial tests of its self-driving wheelchair at Tokyo’s Narita Airport until November 28 this year.
Earlier this month, self-driving vehicles made their debut at Las Vegas International Airport.
Back in July, the founder of Pony.ai, an autonomous driving company co-located in China and the US, explained how driverless taxis would make business travellers lives easier when travelling in China.