Nissan has announced public trials of its all-new Easy Ride self-driving robotaxi service in Japan next March.
In collaboration with DeNA, the healthcare, gaming, and automotive service operator, both brands will equip two Nissan Leaf vehicles with self-driving software, cameras, and sensors, with a backup driver in the passenger seat.
The platform also allows booking cabs through a mobile app which covers the entire booking process Uber-style from hailing a driver to paying the fee.
The first public trial will take place from March 5 to March 18, 2018 in the Minatomirai district of Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. If all goes well, Nissan will hit an early 2020 timeline to bring the service to the public.
This latest innovation is part of Nissan's Intelligent Mobility program, its upgraded technology suite forming part of Nissan's product evolution over the next decade in three areas: driving, power, and integration for more immersive and connected driving experiences. Some examples include self-parking cars, vehicle-to-vehicle infrastructure, one-pedal operations, and self-charging EVs - many technologies of which are under development.
Competitors have also stepped up their ride-sharing game, with General Motors announcing its intention to run a service by 2019. Waymo, part of Alphabet, also has Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans circling Phoenix and surrounding areas in its first public trials.
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