Technology company DeNA has joined forces with Yamato Transport and the two launched project Robonekoyamato, which will use autonomous vans to deliver packages across the Asian nation from 2017.
For the first 12 months, the program will be tested in an unannounced area of Japan. When it comes into full swing, it will allow locals to order products from local stores through a dedicated smartphone app. They’ll then be able to decide an exact delivery time and where they want to package dropped off.
The autonomous vans are set to be developed and produced in-house by the two companies. DeNA tested a series of autonomous taxis earlier in the year so has experience with creating such vehicles.
To ensure the vans operate without any incidents, they will have a driver behind the wheel at all times. Given the decreased drier involvement necessary, Yamato hopes it will be able to find more women and elderly residents willing to become delivery drivers and expects it to also be easier to find workers for early morning or late night shifts.
In the future, the transport company hopes to use fully-autonomous delivery vans without a driver on board for quick and care-free deliveries.