Nissan Launches Robotic Taxi Service
When you think of self-driving cars, Nissan is probably one of the first brands that pops into your head. Its Nissan Intelligent Mobility project has developed cars that are aware of the road and can assist the driver in avoiding accidents. However, its vehicles that can totally drive themselves have mostly remained in controlled environments and off the road. That all changes in March when Nissan and DeNA Co., Ltd. begin field tests of its Easy Ride program and bring self-driving cars to customers in Japan.
Starting on March 5th, Easy Ride’s trial period will begin in the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama of Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture. The robo-vehicles will run along one route at first, between Nissan’s global headquarters to the Yokohama World Porters shopping center. It’s a distance of 4.5 kilometers, but it forces the cars to interact with traffic and navigate busy city streets.
While the self-driving cars will be on the road with no pilot, during the test Nissan and DeNA will be in a remote monitoring facility to watch the cars and see how they perform. Beyond the single route, Easy Ride will also run tests where riders utilize an app on their phone to tell the vehicle where they want to go or choose from a list of recommended locations nearby. When they arrive, passengers will also receive discount coupons for 40 of the retailers listed by the vehicle and fill out a survey to give the administrators feedback.
Of course, there’s no telling how long the autonomous Easy Ride will be in testing since it depends on how well the vehicles perform. It’s still a major step forward towards a future where passengers trust their cars to drive themselves completely.