Manufacturers Honda (from Japan) and General Motors (from the US) announced on Thursday plans to launch a driverless taxi service in 2026 in Tokyo, to help overcome the labor shortage in the Asian country.
The project developed by the two automotive giants together with driverless vehicle operator Cruise will offer “a completely new mobility experience” in Japan, Honda said in a statement.
"It will be a big step towards realizing an advanced mobility society," said the company's head, Toshihiro Mibe.
According to Honda, the project seeks to "help address social issues facing Japan, such as the lack of taxi and bus drivers."
With this new service, Cruise Origin, jointly developed by GM, Cruise and Honda and designed specifically for a driverless travel service, will pick up customers at a specific location and take them to the destination, completely driverless. Customers will use a dedicated app on their smartphones to complete the entire process from call to payment.
The Cruise Origin is an autonomous vehicle without a driver's seat or steering wheel. It has ample cabin space that can be as private as a personally owned vehicle and allows 6 people to travel simultaneously, face to face.
This driverless ride service will offer a completely new type of mobility experience in Japan. Target and target a wide range of customers, including business owners, families, visitors and more.
The three companies plan to launch the self-driving ride service in central Tokyo in early 2026. The service will start with dozens of Cruise Origins and will later expand to a fleet of 500 Cruise Origins. The three companies subsequently plan to expand and scale the service to areas outside of central Tokyo.
Cruise Origin is scheduled to be displayed for the first time in Japan at the Honda booth at the Japan Mobility Show 2023 at Tokyo Big Site (public days: October 28 to November 5, 2023).