SoftBank to launch autonomous-enabling services in Japan in July 2019

SoftBank’s service will power a range of machineries including autonomous farm equipment to buses and drones.

In a statement, Japan’s SoftBank Corp stated it will be launching a service in 2019 that will use satellite navigation data and the telco’s mobile base stations to help power self-driving buses, drones and farm machinery.

SoftBank’s service will commence trials in Japan next month before expanding nationwide in November. The service will provide centimeter-level positioning to the autonomous tech that is beginning to be introduced across a range of industries, said SoftBank.

Tokyo’s constellation of Michibiki satellites have been offering high-precision location data since November 2018; SoftBank’s service aims to tap this data and build a business model around it for commercial purposes.

Despite a government backing, Japan is seen as lagging behind other countries in high tech areas such as autonomous driving and the usage of drones in part because of onerous legal restrictions.

Kajima Corp, one of Japan’s big four construction firms, will begin the trial of the service with construction site monitoring drones.

SoftBank-owned SB Drive, which is developing self-driving tech for buses, will also commence trials.

“SoftBank is expanding its backing for the nascent field of autonomous driving on multiple fronts including Monet, a self-driving car venture set up with Toyota Motor”.

The portfolio of SoftBank’s parent – SoftBank Group Corp – includes companies which control 90% of the world’s ride-hailing industry. SoftBank also has stakes in Uber Technologies and General Motors Co.

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