Nissan to test self-driving “robo-taxi” service as early as 2018

It has been just four years since Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said that the company would start building self-driving cars by 2020 and it looks like the plan is now ready to implement as early as in 2018.

Though an early entrant to the electric car game, Nissan’s timeline looked really stretched on the autonomous front.

Perhaps the CEO was setting expectations as low as possible.

But Nissan’s plan to hit the road with its autonomous vehicles has now come sooner than their own expectations.

Nissan said in January this year that it will be working with Japanese technology firm DeNA to build self-driving vehicles.

On Tuesday the company announced that it will start public testing of ïts “robo-taxis” in Japan from March 2018.

Known as “Easy Ride”, for a fortnight in March, two Nissan Leaf electric vehicles kitted out with cameras and sensors will hit the roads around Minato Mirai, a planned commercial district near the car maker’s headquarters in Yokohama.

Riders in Japan will be able to summon the vehicle from a predetermined pickup location using a smartphone app, and offered one of a handful of drop-off locations.

Riders can also opt to tell the car what they would like to do—rather than provide a location—and the vehicle will suggest locations in the vicinity of the test area.

Nissan now joins a growing line of automakers and tech companies testing self-driving cars on public roads.

Google’s Waymo began its tests in Arizona this year, and General Motors’ Cruise Automation will soon start its own public tests under the Cruise Anywhere name.

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