Robot bus successfully transports commuters...400 meters

A Japanese company has brought us a step closer to autonomous public transport with its Robot Shuttle.

Adam Bolton
Adam Bolton
Adam Bolton is a contributor for CNET based in Japan. He is, among things, a volunteer, a gamer, a technophile and a beard grower. He can be found haunting many of Tokyo's hotspots and cafes.

In the future, we'll take our commutes on driverless buses. That future is being trialled right now in Japan.

The electric Robot Shuttle completed its first public trials this past week, the Jiji Press reports, traversing a 400 meter section of public road along Lake Tazawa in Semboku in Akita, a northern prefecture of Japan.

While moving at a not-so-expedient 10kph (6mph), the test was operated successfully. It drove 6 people, half of its 12 person capacity, down the road and back again.

The bus was unveiled back in July, with tech giant DeNA now putting it to its first public test. The local government is hoping to bring autonomous public transport to smaller, more rural areas of Japan, reports the Japan Times.

Japan has competition though, with a similar trial taking place last month in Australia -- and one in Finland a month before that.

As well as trailing the vehicle itself, DeNA and mobile carrier NTT Docomo have been using the Robot Shuttle to test new 5G tech. The duo are trialling the streaming of dashboards of self-driving vehicles as well as improving their incident reporting.