All Nippon Airways Trials Autonomous Electric Busses In Tokyo

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is set to continue trials for a driverless electric bus in Tokyo Haneda Airport. The Japanese airline hopes that a successful trial period will allow the technology to be officially implemented at the end of this year.

ANA, electric autonomous bus next to aircraft
ANA has begun 2nd stage testing on its autonomous electric bus. Photo: SoftBank via ANA

Tackling emissions on the ground

We’ve heard a lot recently about airlines developing their operations to facilitate smaller carbon footprints, but most are focusing on in-flight travel. All Nippon Airways, however, has started to tackle its carbon emissions from the ground up. In the pursuit of a greener operation, the Japanese air carrier has launched further testing on its autonomous electric bus.

The AI-driven bus will be used to ferry customers between the terminal and aircraft with better efficiency. ANA believes that this new investment will not only help it to improve its carbon footprint but also will be a benefit to passengers.

ANA autonomous electric bus on runway
The new bus will help passengers get from A to B more efficiently. Photo: SoftBank via ANA

In a press release on the matter, Senior Executive Vice President of ANA Shinzo Shimizu said:

“ANA is committed to actively embracing the most innovative technology to improve all aspects of the passenger travel experience. Once fully implemented, the autonomous electric bus will allow us to provide a more convenient transit experience for our passengers while also improving efficiency for our airport staff. As sustainability has always been a priority for ANA, we will continue looking for opportunities to make our products and services more eco-friendly.”

How will it work?

Ensuring passenger safety on a driverless bus is no mean feat. That said, ANA has been working on this venture for a while to ensure just that. It started testing back in 2018.

On 25th February 2018, ANA conducted a variety of trials with the vehicle on a 0.87-mile course. The aim was to test the accuracy of the implemented technology. The autonomous bus uses a camera-sensor to track exterior conditions such as speed, location, and surroundings coupled with an internal sensor that monitors passenger activity. Artificial Intelligence comes into play by analyzing passenger activity to ensure safety. There is also a remote monitoring system that allows human intervention if issues with the bus arise.

All Nippon Airways concluded that the testing in 2018 has gone successfully. This year, between 22nd and 31st January, ANA will be testing the technology further. This time, the bus will drive a 1.18-mile course with the least human oversight possible. ANA hopes that this will test real-life conditions on a specific segment of the airport.

Commitment to the environment

ANA aircraft at Tokyo Airport
ANA eventually hopes to be a leading eco-friendly airline. Photo: Getty Images

Whilst this investment might seem big in terms of innovation, it also doesn’t seem overly significant in tackling overall carbon emissions. However, this is just one section of ANA’s environmental plan.

ANA hopes to eventually become a leading eco-friendly airline. In order to achieve that, ANA is looking to reduce its ground energy consumption by 1% each year. For that reason, it’s no stranger to the electric vehicle. In fact, it introduced its first back in 2012. In that year alone, the airline introduced one electric vehicle for ground handling in Tokyo Narita and two more in Tokyo Haneda.

However, autonomous electric vehicles are still something rather novel.

What do you think about ANA’s autonomous electric vehicles? Would you use one? Let us know in the comments below!