Japanese internet company Yahoo! Japan has led a US$4.6 million (JPY 490 million) investment in SB Drive, SoftBank’s self-driving bus division that is aiming to commercialize smart mobility services by using self-driving technologies. With this investment, the project has received a capital increase through a third-party allocation of shares, with SoftBank making an additional investment of US$1.7 million (JPY 190 million). Established in April 2016, SB Drive was set up as a joint venture between SoftBank and Advanced Smart Mobility, a company researching and developing automated driving technologies. Under a cooperative framework with SoftBank, Advanced Smart Mobility, Yahoo! Japan and others, SB Drive has been conducting social trials and testing the commercial viability of fixed-route bus type community public transportation and large truck convoy-based trunk line freight transportation systems that use self-driving technologies. SB Drive currently claims to have smart mobility partnership agreements with four municipalities in Japan, including Kitakyushu City and Yazu Town in Tottori Prefecture. By the end of 2018, it plans to conduct fully autonomous driving trials on public roads. The investment marks Yahoo! Japan’s full-fledged entry into the self-driving sector. By linking self-driving with it regional and transportation services like Yahoo! Maps and by utilizing big data from self-driving and Yahoo! Japan service users, Yahoo! Japan aims to pursue its “Update Mobility” goal that aims to address the regional and transport issues of customers.
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