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SoftBank makes self-driving push in Japan

Tie-up with French startup to bring "horizontal elevators" to public roads in April

SoftBank's self-driving bus project uses vehicles made by French startup Navya, which will have staff on board in case of emergency (photo by Wataru Suzuki)

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group is making a push for self-driving buses in Japan, unveiling on Monday a plan to carry passengers on public roads from April.

Sakai, a town on the outskirts of Tokyo, plans to begin operating vehicles on a 2.5 kilometer route, making stops at spots like banks and schools. Navya, a French startup, will provide 11 passenger buses without steering wheels that have integrated monitoring software developed by SB Drive, a unit of SoftBank's mobile subsidiary.

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