A few months back, Muji announced it would be getting into the autonomous car game with Gacha, a rounded all-weather mini bus designed to shuttle people around city streets.
Now, it appears the buses are ready to make their real world debut in Finland later this spring. The bus will launch its test program in the Finnish city of Espoo with the aim of rolling out to Helsinki, Vantaa, and other Finnish cities later this year.
Muji developed Gacha with the Finnish technology company Sensible 4, and no surprise here, but it looks like a bus from the future. Muji imbued the vehicle with its minimalist DNA, creating clean, streamlined interiors and large windows. Gacha stretches 30 feet long and can hold up to 16 passengers. It has an LED strip that wraps around the front and back like a ribbon and serves as the headlights and an announcement ticker.
The bus’ maximum speed is 25 mph, and it’s outfitted with a suite of sensors, cameras, and GPS software that will be put to the test in the coming months. Muji says the bus can operate on a fixed, predetermined path, “just like an invisible railway,” or it can respond to user requests and choose an optimized route. It’s not entirely clear how Gacha will operate at launch and how much human intervention will be involved.
Regardless, Muji is aiming to fully integrate Gacha into cities’ transportation fleets by 2021. Stay tuned.