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Aeon sees future for aging, shrinking Japan in new tech

A driverless bus outside an Aeon mall in Chiba.

TOKYO -- Japanese retailer Aeon has become a national leader in putting such cutting-edge technology as artificial intelligence to practical use, plotting solutions to the challenges that unfavorable population trends pose to business and society at large.

In Toyosuna Park, adjacent to a major Aeon mall in the city of Chiba, Chiba Prefecture, a bright green minibus speeds quietly down a 250-meter path. This is Japan's first automated bus service. Twelve shoppers can take the ride at a time for a fee from the start of the month through Thursday.

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