After being issued with an official license plate from the Japanese government, Nissan Motor Co. has finally conducted the first public road test of its “Autonomous Drive” with special version of its Leaf electric vehicle. On board the vehicle as it cruised the Sagami Expressway were Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga and prefecture’s governor, Yuji Kuroiwa.
The road test was done in partnership with Kanagawa Prefecture, in a place near the “Sagami Robot Industry Special Zone”, where projects such as life-assist robots with sensors, control systems and even artificial intelligence are created. The success of the road test will help Nissan achieve its goal of being ready with commercially feasible vehicles with a different kind of mobility by the year 2020.
“Nissan seeks a safer, more comfortable and environmentally friendly mobile future,” said Shiga, vice chairman of Japan’s second-largest auto manufacturer. “Through these tests on an expressway, we hope to further advance our technological development, with the goal of soon implementing Autonomous Drive vehicles. When starting a new project, serious effort is required to gain an understanding of all the variables involved. We were able to conduct this important testing on the Sagami Expressway thanks to the strong support from Kanagawa Prefecture.”
The new Nissan Leaf’s Autonomous Drive system is the first of its kind, which can automatically steer and operate the carbased on the detected road conditions. It can go into a full automatic mode on the expressway, change lanes, merge into traffic and even maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. It was also the first vehicle equipped with this kind of system to be issued a license plate in Japan, back in September.