Nissan Motor Co. along with partner DeNA Co. have announced the outline of a planned trial of an Autonomous Mobility Service (AMS) using a smartphone app, and is planning for a product / service launch in the 2020. According to the companies, the trial will be the first of its kind in Japan.
The field test is planned for early March in the Minato Mirai area of Yokohama, which includes hospitals and large-scale commercial facilities. Two self-driving Nissan Leaf electric vehicles will be field tested on a 4.5-kilometer route.
More than 300 smartphone users have been selected to use the transportation service, which will be available at four points on the route and they will be asked to provide feedback about their user experience, preferred pricing and other questions
To ensure safety, Nissan official staff will be in the driver’s seat although there is no danger anticipated that is related to autonomous driving. DeNA is in charge of the development of the customer app for the service and plans for seamless integration with the navigation systems in the LEAF vehicles.
Nissan President Hiroto Saikawa, at a joint news conference with DeNA President Isao Moriyasu said that: “We will offer a new mobility service in addition to our main business of providing attractive vehicles.”
Moriyasu also said that ... “The number of people who have difficulty travelling is increasing in line with the [country’s] aging society and we want to provide a solution using the power of Artificial Intelligence and the Internet.”
A transportation service that provides driverless vehicles faces not only consumer perception challenges but also political and legislative challenges as well. Japan is currently looking at proposed legislation that will cover autonomous vehicles, AMS and regulations related to “taxi services.” Legislators, the police and corporate entities like Nissan and DeNa are all stakeholders in creating legislation that regulates non-human taxi services and clarifies corporate responsibility in case of accidents and mishaps.
Nissan and DeNA are planning to develop their new initiative in line with parliamentary discussions about AMS and new “taxi services” and is pushing legislators to enact legislation before the upcoming Tokyo Olympics so that Nissan and DeNa can debut their services there.