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En route to becoming a smart campus: 5 things to know about HU’s self-driving shuttle operations

By Hiroshima University Department of Public Relations

Hiroshima University is en route to its smart campus goals as its self-driving shuttle operations begin. Get to know more about the project.

The self-driving shuttle manufactured by May Mobility started operations inside the Hiroshima University campus on March 15.


Hiroshima University has started operations of its self-driving shuttle last Sunday, March 15. Here are five things to know about the project on the road to the university’s journey to becoming a smart campus.

1. It’s part of a bigger smart city project

The self-driving shuttle project is one of the autonomous vehicle (AV) demonstration experiments conducted by the Higashi-Hiroshima Autono-MaaS Consortium.

The consortium comprises HU, the Higashi-Hiroshima City, AV technology firm May Mobility, and local companies like MONET Technologies Co., Ltd. The AV experiment is the first in Japan to demonstrate the combined mobility services of passenger rides and grocery deliveries.

At the unveiling of the self-driving shuttle last March 10, Higashi-Hiroshima City Mayor Hironori Takagaki said he is looking forward to the demonstration experiments as the city moves toward a smart city status in line with its "Society 5.0 for SDGs" goal.

READ: HU signs 5G, smart city development deal

HU President Mitsuo Ochi vowed that the university would continue working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by conducting cutting-edge research addressing regional issues.

2. It’s got a nickname

Before starting the self-driving electric shuttle's operations, the university polled students and faculty to come up with a name for the AV. About 200 cast their votes for the winning name "HIROMOBI." 

The shuttle, which can seat up to four passengers, was also adorned with an image of Hiroty, the university's official mascot.


3. It’s self-driving but won’t be driverless

The self-driving electric shuttle developed by US company May Mobility is equipped with multiple sensors for safety. It has seven cameras used to recognize pedestrians, animals, and other cars. It has five lidars, a laser version of a radar, that can detect objects in every direction and recognize location. Five radars were also installed to detect objects over 100 meters away.

Although equipped with technology that could help it handle different driving scenarios on its own, the shuttle still has a safety driver on board who could take over if needed.

One of the sensors that detect obstacles


4. It’s equipped with cleaning technologies for the new normal

Close contact with strangers and sanitation are worries passengers face under the new normal. To address these, safety and disinfection features were installed in the AV.

Inside the shuttle, partitions are set up to ensure social distancing between passengers. UV-C lights are also installed to sanitize the vehicle between riders. Meanwhile, HEPA filters are used to keep the air clean. 

5. It’s free, but…

The shuttle operation picks up and drops off passengers twice every hour at four stops inside the university. You can take a look at its schedule here.

Although the ride is free, it is currently only available to HU students, faculty, and staff.


Media Contact

Inquiries on the project
Higashi-Hiroshima City Autono-MaaS Promotion Committee Secretariat
TEL: 082-420-0917

Inquiries on the story
Hiroshima University Department of Public Relations
TEL: 082-424-3701
E-mail: koho * office.hiroshima-u.ac.jp
(Note: Please replace * with @)