Seven companies to test self-driving bus technologies for public transit

A self-driving bus test project organised by the “Mobility Innovation Consortium,” an organisation to promote autonomous driving led by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) will be supported by Advanced Smart Mobility Co., Ltd., Aichi Steel Corporation, Kyocera, Nippon Signal Co., Ltd., NEC Corporation and SoftBank Corp.

Project tests, which will occur between December 2018 and March 2019, are designated to evaluate self-driving technologies for bus transit applications, including automated lane-maintenance control, speed control, parking assist, and alternating passage tests on JR East’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines.

Kyocera will support the installation and maintenance of roadside units for vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. Through multiple BRT experiments, the companies aim to identify and solve technology issues that stand in the way of commercialising autonomous bus transit. The project is designed to evaluate technologies and public demonstration rides will not occur at this phase.

Project overview

The tests will be conducted using specially modified autonomous buses provided by Advanced Smart Mobility. Technologies under evaluation include the following:

1. Lane-maintenance and speed control

High-sensitivity Magnetic Impedance (MI) sensors on the bus read information from magnetic markers placed on BRT routes to identify the vehicle’s exact position. Tests will verify the smooth and seamless operation of the bus autonomous lane-maintenance and speed control systems. By automatically controlling the vehicle’s brakes and accelerator, the test evaluates typical operation at speeds of 40km/h or lower, with stops at designated positions.

2. Precision docking

Stopping tests utilise magnetic markers that communicate spatial information to stop the bus automatically as it reaches the platform of the BRT station.

3. Narrow road “alternating passage” capability

Through radio communication between the bus and location-detection systems, this test will verify the bus’s ability to negotiate passage on a BRT roadway wide enough for just one vehicle, as another vehicle approaches from the opposite direction.

4. Other experiments

In addition to the experiments listed above, the companies will conduct location-detection tests using GPS to verify navigation and distance-measurement systems.

Location and time period

LocationOfunato line around BRT Takekoma Station

(Rikuzen Takata City, Iwate Prefecture)

Time PeriodDecember 12, 2018 – March 8, 2019

* Time period includes equipment installation and removal.

* Tests are conducted on BRT roads. Drivers will use alternative public roads during the experiment time period.

Roles of each company

East Japan Railway CompanyResponsible for overall test

Maintaining BRT lanes

Advanced Smart Mobility Co., Ltd.Leader of collaborative experiments

Responsible for self-driving vehicles and vehicle control


Aichi Steel CorporationResponsible for providing and placing magnetic markers

Duties related to maintenance and control of the magnetic marker system

Kyocera CorporationResponsible for vehicle-to-infrastructure communication

Installing roadside units (LTE, ITS)

Maintaining vehicle-to-infrastructure communication

SoftBank Corp.Responsible for Multi-GNSS terminals

Installing Multi-GNSS terminals

Positioning quasi-zenith satellite

Nippon Signal Co., Ltd.Responsible for signal apparatus installation

Installing signal light and signal control equipment

Signal control and management

NEC CorporationResponsible for target track creation

Control of magnetic marker system

For more information on Kyocera click here

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