Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that the investment company SoftBank Group is investing $2.25 billion to develop the Cruise, the self-driving car acquired by General Motors back in 2016. The country’s goal is to have a fully functioning self driving car system in time for the 2020 Olympics, and a more developed privatised commercial self driving car system by 2022. The Cruise has been tested in the US since 2017, but Abe said that it would also be tested on Japanese roads by the end of this fiscal year.
At this point, it’s still not clear if this self-driving car “service” would be on a closed set of roads that would remove other human drivers as a variable, which would be the safest option for passengers for this young and fallible technology.
Earlier this year, an Uber software failure resulted in the unnecessary death of a passerby. SoftBank also has a 15 percent investment stake in Uber but opted not to invest in the company for this project. It’s also not known whether athletes, some spectators, or significant parts of Tokyo will use the fleet of Cruises.