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Japanese students and the elderly to travel across city via pods

The Japanese city of Fukuoka is set to deploy autonomous pods that will transport its passengers across the Hakozaki area, for free, towards the end of next year.

The DragonFly Pod will “solve numerous challenges with transportation costs and efficiencies” and provide eco-friendly mobility for the city’s 1.5 million residents.

The service will be typically used for the elderly, students and for tourists as a last-mile option. They will be able to hail down a DragonFly pod via a mobile app.

"From serving the country’s rapidly aging population, providing a clean energy transportation option for students to acting as a last-mile service in tourist destination, the DragonFly Pod can solve numerous challenges with transportation costs and efficiencies,” said Shaoshan Liu, founder and CEO of PerceptIn.

Robotics and visual intelligence company PerceptIn has partnered with the Fukuoka City Government and MIRAI Future Smart City Challenge to launch the electric low-speed small vehicle (LSE) service in what will be Japan’s first key smart city area.

Local citizens will be invited to experience the autonomous driving technology as PerceptIn carry out field tests and demonstrations around Kyushu in September 2019.

With the support of The Japan Research Institute, PerceptIn is also collaborating with the Fukuoka Directive Council (DC), an industry-academia think-tank.

"We are delighted to partner with PerceptIn to roll-out the electric low speed vehicle road test at Fukuoka City in 2019,” said Shuhei Ishimaru, director general of Fukuoka DC.

“We think this will benefit the residents living in the city. Also, from my perspective, there is a need to bring in this technology to better serve our citizens.”