The one-year trial will let people decide exactly when their parcel will arrive
Autonomous vans will start delivering packages in Japan next year. The tech company DeNA and shipping firm Yamato Transport will team up in March 2017 for a project called Robonekoyamato, and they’ll test the program in an unannounced area for a year, Nikkei Asian Review reports. Users will be able to order goods from local stores through a smartphone app, and they’ll also be able to choose the exact delivery time and location.
While the vans performing the deliveries are autonomous, Japan’s rules mandate a person in the vehicle at all times. Drivers would be able to take over control and be there in case of a problem. Small lockers occupy most of the interior. During drop-offs, the side door slides open, and buyers remove their purchase from the appropriate slot.
The app puts users in control of deliveries. For example, buyers could order something from a local store anytime during the day but schedule the drop-off just in time for when they get home from work. Yamato plans to offer the service at all hours.
DeNA and Yamato plan to develop the autonomous vehicles themselves. The tech company already has some experience in the segment, according to Nikkei. The firm tested an automated taxi on public roads in February and March. It also partnered with a French company to test a driverless shuttle in August.