Encourage customers to shop more by offering to deliver their bags to the garage for free? On tiny little electric four-wheelers? Akihabara, land of electronics, totally has that covered.
Akihabara, also called “Akiba” and “Electric Town,” started their new experimental service yesterday. Customers who want to wander the shops and buy all of the new, classic, or just plain weird electronics and geeky merchandise (no, seriously, it’s either amazing or horrifying, I can’t decide which) without hauling all that heavy stuff back to their cars just need to get the attention of one of the operators, who will take everything back to the garage for you.
The social-technological experiment is called the “Akiba Robot Mobility Porter Service” (yes, those are all English loan words, except for the first one). It’s based out of the underground garage below the Akihabara UDX building (Chiyoda Ward, Soto Kanda 4, if you’re curious). Participants are expected to fill out a survey, for which they get an hour of free parking.
How Is This Green?
I’m glad you asked – the porter service isn’t using traditional vehicles to haul your stuff around for you. They’ll use the COMS, manufactured and sold by Toyota. It’s 79” long and just over 37” tall, and seats exactly one person. (And your stuff, in the box in the back.) The COMS runs on lead acid batteries, so there are zero emissions and zero noise added to the already enthusiastic district.
The program was set up by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, jumping on the green bandwagon and trying to think of environmentally friendly pilot programs. The Akiba project is just one of several under way in an additional 4 cities in 2 prefectures. The idea is to see how tiny green vehicles integrate with local traffic – and there’s nowhere in Japan that has more local traffic than the various districts of Tokyo, and nowhere in Tokyo more likely to embrace neat little EVs than Akihabara Electric Town.