TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Panasonic Corp. said Thursday it will launch ride-sharing services using autonomous electronic carts in 2021 in a bid to provide easy mobility in small towns and other confined areas.
In the run-up to a commercial launch, the Japanese electronics maker started providing rides this month for the more than 14,000 employees at its headquarters in Osaka Prefecture.
Four self-driving carts, traveling below 20 kilometers per hour on a 2.4-kilometer loop route, are transporting employees around the premises, about 468,000 square meters in size.
Panasonic revamped the four-seat vehicles made by a third party, installing sensors, cameras and telecommunications equipment.
"We are not trying to make high-speed autonomous cars because we are not an automaker. We would like to create slow and human-friendly mobility," a company official said at a press conference.
Panasonic expects the new services to be introduced in theme parks or venues for large events such as the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka.