Japanese retailer MUJI, best-known for its neat little homeware pieces, has turned its hand to automobile design, revealing plans for a self-driving shuttle bus.
The autonomous vehicle, named Gacha, is being created alongside Sensible 4 and is due to go into operation in three Finnish cities by 2020 (Espoo, Vantaa and Hämeenlinna). Given the harsh weather conditions in Finland, it’s incredibly important that the bus is able to run all-year round.
“Weather plays a critical role in opening the market for autonomous buses or robo-taxis,” said MUJI. “Currently heavy rain, fog, and snow prevent autonomous vehicles from driving, as the existing technologies are mostly being tested and developed in warm climate conditions.”
Sensible 4 have been responsible for developing the vehicle’s AI system, while MUJI has taken care of the design, creating Gacha in its trademark minimal-but-friendly style. LED’s will wrap around the bus and will be used for both traveller announcements and as the headlights.
“Muji proposes a pleasant life. This not only covers products for daily life, but also the challenges faced by different communities,” continued MUJI. “The advanced technology of autonomous driving has potential in the countryside where decreasing birthrates and ageing populations are causing problems in these communities.”