JR East Launches Autonomous Bus Service in Miyagi

Economy

Sendai, Miyagi Pref., Dec. 5 (Jiji Press)--East Japan Railway Co. <9020>, or JR East, started an autonomous bus service in the northeastern prefecture of Miyagi on Monday, in response to the shortage of drivers amid the graying population.

In the service, autonomous buses travel at a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour, the fastest among such bus services in Japan.

A total of four inbound and outbound buses will be operated a day on a former train line that was reborn as a bus rapid transit (BRT) line in 2012 after being damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Subject to self-driving operations is a 4.8-kilometer section between Yanaizu and Rikuzenyokoyama stations, with busses using sensors to detect magnetic markers embedded in the road.

On Monday, a self-driving bus left Rikuzenyokoyama at around 11:10 a.m. (2:10 a.m. GMT).

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press