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JAPAN’s DeNA Says Get on the Self-Driving Bus

Japanese mobile internet company DeNA Co. on Thursday said it would start a transportation service in Japan that uses self-driving buses, its latest push into autonomous driving.

DeNA will use the EZ10 electric shuttle produced by EasyMile, a French driverless technology startup, that it has dubbed the “Robot Shuttle.” It will begin offering services next month at a large park partially managed by a shopping mall developer in Chiba prefecture, near Tokyo.

DeNA is set to announce Friday that it has formed a consortium with Japanese mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc., Kyushu University and the city of Fukuoka in southern Japan to develop autonomous driving technology using the Robot Shuttle.

The four-meter-long (13-foot-long) Robot Shuttle can accommodate as many as 12 passengers and travel at up to 40 kilometers (25 miles), an hour, DeNA said. The vehicle uses sensors, cameras and a Global Positioning System to navigate and avoid obstacles.

DeNA, which also produces mobile games, jumped into the driverless car race last year when it formed a joint venture called Robot Taxi Inc. with ZMP Inc., a developer of vehicle technology.

Aiming to commercialize its driverless transportation service by 2020, DeNA has said it would seek to offer unmanned cabs to foreign travelers and local residents in areas of Japan where buses and trains aren’t available.

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