Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. will start a pilot project for its Easy Ride self-driving taxis next year in Japan. The first public field test will include two Leaf electric cars outfitted with cameras and sensors, and will take place in Yokohama from March 5 to 18, the automotive giant said. The endeavor was developed in collaboration with DeNA Co. Ltd., a domestic software company with previous experience in driverless mobility services, including shuttle buses for the elderly in rural areas.
Passengers will be using a dedicated mobile application to schedule a ride, set their destination and pay the fare. Based on the selected parameters, the app will suggest sightseeing routes, as well as recommend local destinations such as restaurants and amusement parks in multiple languages. Nissan claims a remote monitoring system will also be in place to ensure customer safety.
The two companies started collaborating in January, and say the trials will lead to the launch of a full ride-sharing system in the country in the early 2020s. The car manufacturer is facing competition from companies such as ZMP Inc., a Japanese robotics manufacturer which is working on a self-driving taxi service for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.