Vehicles Serve as Bus or Taxi Depending on the Situation

Whenever I’m in a hurry, the bus is never due to arrive in time— is there a technology to better meet the needs of public transport users?

For many, public transportation such as buses and taxis is a familiar part of our daily lives. However, depending on the time of day, vehicles may be very crowded or not available when needed. In some areas, train or bus services end early, while in other areas the availability of bus service is quite low. Bus services are good when we are not in a hurry, but sometimes a taxi is needed, even though it may cost more. The type of transportation we wish to use differs depending on the time and circumstances.

So, why not switch between the services provided, such as between taxi and bus on a regular route, depending on the riders’ requirements? The On-Demand Transport Service Technology that Fujitsu has developed in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) stems from such an idea.

Improving the profits of transport service operators’ by 80%, allocating vehicles according to the passengers needs

Under this initiative, a transport service operator provides services using minivan-sized (or taxi type) vehicles. When a passenger who wants to use a vehicle notifies the service operator via a ride request, which contains information such as “point of departure,” “destination,” and “desired boarding time” or “desired arrival time” using a smartphone or other smart device, the service operator’s computer determines the optimal modes of transportation and returns options to the rider. The following three options are available (in order of price).

(1) Taxi mode: The vehicle goes directly from the point of departure to the destination.
(2) Ride-share mode: The vehicle picks up passengers heading in the same direction one by one and lets them off one by one.
(3) Fixed-route mode: Passengers can get on or off at any point along the route.

Passengers need only select the mode that suits their goal. Instructions are then communicated to vehicles in service and an appropriate vehicle arrives. Although the computer performs quite complicated calculations, passengers simply select the mode of transportation by comparing fares and arrival times, so the solution is very easy to use.

This technology enables transportation service operators to increase their profits while operating services economically. In a simulation experiment conducted in a Tokyo suburb, the proposed system was found to increase service operator profits by as much as 80% above conventional operation, in which only taxi services are offered. As the number of people who want to take a taxi will increase when a sudden rain shower occurs, this system allows service operators to more easily respond to such sudden demand.

Currently, Fujitsu is carrying out simulation and technical improvement of the On-Demand Transport Service Technology and will verify effectiveness with the goal of practical implementation during the 2016 fiscal year. Fujitsu will continue to support a more prosperous society using the power of ICT.