Estonian company Auve Tech is partnering with BOLDLY Corporation, a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp, to introduce MiCa, a new Level 4 self-driving electric vehicle (EV), to Japan.
MiCa is expected to be on public roads by the summer of 2023, with obstacle avoidance and autonomous driving capabilities.
The first of its kind, according to Auve Tech research, MiCa's launch comes at a critical time in Japan's mobility landscape.
There is an urgent need for sustainable public transportation solutions, such as driverless vehicles, due to a declining birthrate and an aging population.
These socio-economic factors have created a fertile environment for the broader use of automated driving services, along with recent legislation lifting the ban on Level 4 automated driving.
BOLDLY plans to initiate demonstration runs and secure the necessary permits and approvals from relevant authorities to ensure MiCa's readiness.
In addition, as the sole distributor of MiCa in Japan, the Company will promote the supply of MiCa to local governments and companies, focusing on addressing social issues through automated driving technology.
On May 16, 2023, BOLDLY signed a memorandum of understanding with Sakai-cho, Ibaraki Prefecture, and plans to introduce the system within 2023.
BOLDLY has been working with Auve Tech since 2022 to develop a Japan-specific model of the MiCa.
The vehicle will be equipped with devices and cameras compatible with BOLDLY's dispatcher platform and an integrated software system via an application programming interface (API), making it a "dispatcher" -a native vehicle.
Despite its compact size (4.2 m long, 1.8 m wide, and 2.5 m high), MiCa can accommodate up to eight passengers, making it suitable for narrow roads.
With seven LiDAR sensors and eight cameras, MiCa can detect obstacles 100 meters away and provide autonomous avoidance within a pre-defined area.
MiCa's fast-charging model can be recharged within an hour, extending its operating time. However, its all-weather capability, ensured by the latest sensors and software, is still subject to extreme weather conditions.
Redundancy in critical systems such as steering, brakes, computers, and sensors minimizes the risk of vehicle failure.
BOLDLY aims to introduce about 10 MiCa vehicles in Japan in FY2023, making a significant step toward solving social problems and realizing Level 4 automated mobility services in the region.