Japan will be the first country to use self-driving cars to deliver items purchased online. The service, called “on-demand service delivery,” will be tested on the road as early as next year.
Tasked to fulfill online shopping orders, the driverless cars will be on its trial run beginning March of 2017. The project is a joint effort between delivery company Yamato Transport and information technology company DeNA.
The self-driving car delivery service is called “Roboneko” (Robot cat), which is a reference to the company’s black cat logo, according to Rocketnews 24.
Once operational, customers will be able to select and order items via an app from their smartphones. Its system will allow users to track the delivery instantly. The initial phase will have the cars make their rounds at various “national strategic special zones.” If the trial is successful, they’ll roll out the service to the entire country.
During the initial test run, the vehicles will have drivers on board to inspect and monitor the cars. The one-year experiment will also see if the “shopping agent service” will run smoothly. The driverless cars will be tasked to pick up goods purchased online from a second party source before delivering them to the customers.
Yamato, the company behind the project, is Japan’s largest door-to-door delivery service companies with market share of 41%.