Panasonic Announces New Mobility Vehicle Project for Tokyo Transportation Hub

Panasonic has recently begun testing new robotic mobility devices at the newly constructed Takanawa Gateway train station in Tokyo. The new plan was set in motion to bring a series of automated services to the airport and surrounding facilities as a part of a huge renovation and redevelopment project in the surrounding business district of Shinagawa.

These mobility devices are intelligent electric wheelchairs, operated in several three. These wheelchairs will be used as a single group in the trial. The trial will focus on ensuring the safety of passenger mobility issues as they are transported throughout the large building.  

A station employee will control the lead wheelchair, and the other two wheelchairs will automatically follow. The vehicles will be notified of obstacles, human or inanimate. The wheelchairs are equipped with an automatic braking system; when someone crosses in front of the lead vehicle, they slow down or stop as well. The vehicles continuously monitor speed and carry sensors to detect malfunctions found in any of the vehicles’ components.

The global tech giant Panasonic is planning expansive projects involving mobility, including transport services for large groups of people traveling together like tourists and families. The trial will begin in September as the company is researching advanced automotive networks. The CIRRUS project will use cloud data for real-time analysis and transmission of information like vehicle activity and road conditions. The data will be shared among vehicles, roadways, infrastructure, and operators. This technology aims to improve safety, reduce carbon footprint, and maximize travel efficiency.

Panasonic will also launch these transportation tests in Utah, Georgia, and Colorado by the end of 2020. The Takanawa Gateway Station trial is situated in the middle of the Shinagawa Redevelopment Project, a several-year long mission to create a global hub in the Tokyo district. Many train routes such as Yamanote, Keihin Tohoku, and Tokaido lines are conjoined in the region.

Tokaido Shinkansen is the world’s oldest high-speed train line, which also crosses through the district. Haneda Airport, the home base of Japan’s two major domestic airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, is close. The development of these areas, including the residential and business high-rise buildings, is expected to be completed by 2024.

In a report by New Atlas, David Szondy explained that as robotic systems are becoming more sophisticated, they will move forward more and more in our daily lives. These robots have to be able to operate in a chaotic and unpredictable human environment. This means a lot of real-world testing is required to be done by Panasonic, which sees a market opportunity for not only the mobility devices for individuals but also for moving groups of people from one place to another.

The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization assist in the development of Panasonic’s robotic mobility and safety control system.

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