Skip to main content

SoftBank's Autonomous Bus Service Isn't The Answer To Rural Transportation



SoftBank subsidiary SB Drive has been selected to undertake trials of an autonomous transport system for the Okinawa region. The service is being run as part of an investigation into the feasibility and social acceptability of autonomous transport by Japan's cabinet office and will take place in an area of Nanjo City's Azama Suns Beach.

From the positioning video above its clear to see that SB Drive is targeting the movement of older people from rural to urban centres. 

Whilst the application of technology is interesting, I'm not sure it's entirely appropriate. In this instance a bus driver does more than just drive the bus. There's the elements of social interaction, passenger care, safety and security to consider too.

And given the number of passengers and frequency of the service, how much does the cost of adding a driver make to the whole solution anyway?

As I've mentioned before, buses are effectively self-driving forms of transport. For urban transportation they solve a difficult problem in about the most efficient way possible.

Rural bus services are more difficult to solve thanks to the wider catchment areas and longer journeys. Neither of these issues relate to the presence of a driver and removing them from the service adds little value and doesn't solve any of the problems.

So in this respect its probably fair to say that the SB Drive / Cabinet Office experiment is technically interesting without providing very much information on how to solve any transport problems.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

F1: Robert Kubica's Williams Test Asks More Questions Than It Answers

Comparing driver's times at a tyre evaluation test like last week's Abu Dhabi event is difficult at the best of times, but when trying to assess the performance of a driver who has been out of the sport for six years, that difficulty level is raised even higher.
On the face of it Robert Kubica's test for Williams was a success. Fastest of the three Williams drivers present the headlines look promising. However, taking into consideration the different tyres used to set those times muddies the water considerably.
Kubica ran a three lap qualifying simulation on the new 'hyper-soft' tyre - which should have given him a two-second advantage. Correcting for tyres it would appear that Kubica was significantly slower than Sergei Sorotkin - who was on the harder 'soft' tyre - and marginally quicker than Lance Stroll, the team's only contracted driver.

Stroll's family fortune currently funds Williams, so there' no chance that he will be anywhere but in a…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…