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Japan's ZMP to offer self-driving road test service overseas

Startup catering to developers for essential step in driving and safety systems

TOKYO -- ZMP, a Japanese startup robot developer, announced that it has begun to test onboard self-driving and driving safety systems in vehicles on public roads overseas for developers who want to ensure their products function properly on streets around the world. 

The RoboTest service, which previously tested such systems on only Japanese roads, now offers the option to conduct tests on roads in the U.S. and Europe. Tests in Thailand and other parts of Asia will be added, the Tokyo-based company said. 

Tests on public roads are an essential element in the development of self-driving systems, as well as driving safety support systems -- an area related to self-driving that engineers call advanced driver assistance systems.

RoboTest is a comprehensive package that encompasses designing tests, preparing measurement devices, hiring drivers and analyzing data. 

For example, an electronics maker developing an onboard camera to monitor the situation around the vehicle can ask ZMP to test the product for potential defects, measure biological data to gauge the bodily responses of the driver and compile a report.

Prices for the overseas tests start at 12 million yen ($110,000), excluding tax, for a package involving a single vehicle and 10 drivers, conducted over a period of two weeks. The minimum fee is several million yen higher than the tests done in Japan due to the additional burden of securing vehicles and drivers in overseas locations, according to the company.

In an actual use of the service to gauge driver responses, ZMP performed a test in the U.S. conducted on public roads on the West Coast, including expressways, covering a total distance of 5,000km. The company collected biological data from 30 drivers, such as electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms.

ZMP has provided vehicle data collection and testing services through ZEG, a joint venture set up in 2015 with Hearts United Group, a debugging service operator for mobile devices.

With RoboTest, ZMP designs systems for the tests and records data, while ZEG manages the overall testing process.

(Nikkei)

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