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Panasonic HQ rolls out autonomous ride-share service for staff

Consumer electronics brand and retail solutions provider Panasonic is using autonomous vehicles to take staff around its headquarters in Osaka, Japan.

The ride-sharing service covers the 468,400 sq m site, which employs 14,200 people. One lap of the area is 2.4km and the vehicle can complete the journey in around 21 minutes, with staff required to book ride reservations on a mobile app or internal website.

Showcasing its in-house technological credentials, Panasonic’s administration department operates the transit service rather than outsourcing it to a third-party developer.

Panasonic said it developed three core systems to launch the new service – the driving system itself is designed for a slow-moving compact vehicle equipped with people recognition technology, while Panasonic's TV conferencing system supports the audio-visual element, and the admin team have an easy-to-monitor operating system.

A key area of focus for Panasonic as it enters its second century of business operations is mobility, and the company said it will continue to develop "Last ten-mile" solutions that help people, communities, and the planet. Several of these innovations were seen by Essential Retail during a trip to Japan as part of Panasonic’s 100-year anniversary celebrations in 2018 – much of which has been designed with serving Japan’s ageing population in mind.

Panasonic said it will continue to analyse the service after launch, and use what it learns to introduce new vehicles, review operations, and “to evolve the service to accommodate the users' and community's needs”.