Self-Driving Robot Cars Now Roll On Sidewalks In Japan

It’s amazing how fast technology is progressing at the moment. Just a couple years ago, the thought of a self-driving vehicle would have made even the most hardcore believer frown. But the ingenuity people harbor far exceeds our expectations of the future – so much so that there is no doubt that we’ll all be able to put our cars on auto-pilot in the foreseeable future. That is actually happening right now in Japan with a vehicle called Ropits.

The Ropits self-driving vehicle was developed by Hitachi and is actually named Robot For Personal Intelligent Transport System. It has been introduced on Japanese sidewalks and is getting rave reviews. On the sidewalks? Yup, this vehicle is not an actual car, it’s just a one-man self-driving vehicle which was created to help increase mobility for disabled or elderly people. It’s a genius concept, and one that pushes technology forward with great leaps.

The Ropits vehicle might look small and unstable, but it is actually controlled by a gyro sensor to stabilize it on uneven ground. The technology within this self-driving vehicle is quite sophisticated. The passenger gets in the vehicle through a bird wing hatch, enters the destination on the tablet positioned inside the vehicle and then presses start. It’s all touch-based. After hitting start, the passenger can sleep, read or of course enjoy the ride to the destination. The navigation is handled with systems like a GPS and lasers in order to ensure the safety and comfort of the passenger.

You might wonder why the vehicle travels on the sidewalks and not the designated roads. It’s quite simple really. By utilizing the less occupied sidewalks, the vehicle is able to navigate faster on its way to the destination without the interference of cars, buses and or trucks. If the passenger feels inclined to drive the vehicle him or herself, there is a joystick which enables manual navigation. What this vehicle means to the overall perception of self-driving vehicles is hard to say this close after launch. One thing is for sure though, and that is that self-driving vehicles will play an important role in our future. As they say, optimization and comfort are everything.