Nissan Using Driverless LEAFs to Move New Vehicles from Factory to Dock

Driverless Nissan LEAFs used in Nissan's factory to shunt cars to the dock

The fact that Japan doesn’t allow autonomous cars on the road isn’t stopping Nissan from using their driverless-technology-enabled Nissan LEAFs. The company uses these self-driving cars to deliver newly made vehicles to waiting transport ships at the company’s dock.

The LEAFs used at the Oppama plant near Yokohama do the 1-mile trip several times a day, towing three cars on flatbed trailers behind them. Their total burden per trip is 7 to 8 tons, but the LEAFs lug them the full distance with no complaints, no overtime and no strikes – and, in fact, no pay!

But these cars are power-hungry because of the heavy loads they pull each day, so they get charging breaks – quick charges during loading and unloading, and a full charge and “lunch-time” and overnight.

The job itself is pretty limited in scope, so it’s perfect for these little self-driven employees that need no motivation to work tirelessly to move up to 1,000 cars a day from factory to wharf.

During the special daytime event where these electric workhorses were showcased to members of the press, one of them did break down mid-way, and the trip had to be completed by a human driver. But Nissan VP Kazuhiro Doi said that this has never happened on any of the 1,700 trips that these autonomous LEAFs had done so far, putting the blame on “electronic pollution caused by the forest of video cameras.”

That aside, Nissan’s managers were unfazed by the incident. The company will eventually deploy the same system to its other plants, first in Japan and then the rest of the world.

In other news, BMW announced that it would test driverless cars as part of a ride-hailing service in the inner city of Munich, Germany, next year.

READ: BMW to Test the “Coolest” Self-driving Vehicle Ride-hailing Service Next Year

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