Nissan said that it will begin field-tests for “Easy Ride” driverless "robot taxis" in early 2018 as rival automakers around the world step up self-driving technologies. Nissan, along with the Japanese mobile game company DeNA have jointly developed the new driverless vehicle services.
Easy Ride will carry out tests for two-weeks in Yokohama, a suburb southwest of Tokyo in March. The tests will use two electric autonomous vehicles based on its Leaf automobile platform.
Under their plan, customers will use a mobile app to call the “Robo-Taxi”, provide information on their intended destination and pay the fare. Easy Ride will support multiple languages and use a remote monitoring system to ensure passenger safety.
Nissan is eager to roll out the service and begin service in Tokyo in conjunction with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics when the number of foreign visitors to Japan will reach record highs.
Companies around the world are racing to get autonomous vehicles in gear, and competition includes not only automakers such as General Motors and Ford but also Silicon Valley technology innovators Apple, Google, Uber and Tesla.
International carmakers have promised to have self-driving models rolling off assembly lines as early as 2020. In order to beat its competitors, General Motors said it was aiming to overtake its rivals by launching its own large-scale fleet of self-driving taxis by 2019.