Last updated: 11:30 AM ET, Tue August 23 2016

Promising Driverless Technology May Power Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Travel Technology | Gabe Zaldivar | August 23, 2016

Promising Driverless Technology May Power Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Photo courtesy Thinkstock

The Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics will soon be a memory for sports fans, but for world travelers, the Tokyo 2020 Games promise to be a sign of intriguing innovation.

CNET’s Katie Collins reports on Japan and its technologically advanced infrastructure.

Collins highlights some exciting news coming out of the country that promises some big things on the horizon. Most notable is the possibility that driverless taxis could be squiring visitors around the city just four years from now when various venues are bouncing with raucous Olympic events.

The publication spoke with Tomoyuki Akiyama who is the head of global communications at DeNA, which houses a division that oversees Robot Taxi – a project that may one day provide driverless automotive technology to the Japanese masses.

Of course, these things take time and, as it were, a lenient adherence to current road regulations.

The report is a promising one, as it sees 2020 as the perfect watershed moment to usher in an innovation that has been on the cusp of making its mark worldwide in with such companies as Uber, Google and Ford testing its viability at the moment.

The following video illustrates how Robot Taxi’s technology might work:

Akiyama tells CNET: “Today's transportation infrastructure was built around this era, and we think the next 2020 Olympics will be such a good opportunity and a good reason for Japanese industries to unite and bring about huge change.”

Working with robotics company ZMP, DeNA hopes Robot Taxi can be an eventual solution to more rural demands.

As Collins notes, that exact kind of solution – whisking more rural locals to their destinations – will be something that can go from tested curio to automated answer well after the next Summer Olympics.

READ MORE: Olympic Magic Leads To Free Vacations For Athletes

The company does see the technology as something feasible in Tokyo when the destination for Olympic tourists would be a series of set venues.

It’s at that time that the real promise of the technology, from Japan’s standpoint, will reach its turning point.

There is, perhaps, no greater testing ground than the Olympics, which welcomes visitors from all corners of the world who would in turn take their experience and anecdotes back home.

Collins notes that regulations that call for a driver to be present at all times is one of the major hurdles for Robot Taxi at the moment.

Still, Akiyama is optimistic just four years removed from what could be a grand coming out party for Robot Taxi, via CNET: “It's much more realistic right now to think, to let it operate in certain limited areas. But, who knows -- it really depends on how much the regulation permits it and the technology has caught up with it.”

With major companies around the globe working on putting driverless technology into everyday practice, it’s not inconceivable that Tokyo 2020 will feature more than human highlights but a possible automotive revolution.

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