All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest and 5-Star airline, in collaboration with SoftBank Corp. subsidiary SB Drive Corp., Advanced Smart Mobility and BYD, has jointly started testing an autonomous electric bus for airport use at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan. The trials started from January 22 and will last until the end of this month. The vehicle, made by China’s BYD Co., is the latest example of ANA harnessing the latest technology to improve passenger convenience and comfort.
The bus will transport passengers and staff working at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and allows simplified travel within the airport, boosting convenience for both passengers and staff. The autonomous electric bus is capable of carrying 57 passengers on a 1.9-kilometer (1.18 miles) segment of the restricted area in Haneda Airport multiple times throughout the testing period.
The 12-meter-long bus, with level-3 automation, allows drivers to turn their attention away from driving tasks and engage in different activities. In the near future, the airline plans to introduce level-4 autonomous vehicles, which do not require a driver to be aboard.
“ANA is committed to actively embracing the most innovative technology to improve all aspects of the passenger travel experience,” said Shinzo Shimizu, Senior Executive Vice President of ANA. “Once fully implemented, the autonomous electric bus will allow us to provide a more convenient transit experience for our passengers while also improving efficiency for our airport staff. As sustainability has always been a priority for ANA, we will continue looking for opportunities to make our products and services more eco-friendly.”
ANA and SB Drive first began testing an autonomous electric bus back in February 2018 that was based on the advanced “Dispatcher” technology that oversees safety functions by monitoring for obstacles and potential hazards.
The industry will implement the autonomous electric buses at Haneda International Airport by the end of this year. With this, it wants to improve every aspect of the air travel experience and simultaneously reduce the airline’s carbon footprint.