A Nissan LEAF EV has successfully tested Nissan’s Autonomous Drive technology on roads in Japan, the automaker says.
A press release from Nissan said the test took place on Sagami Expressway in Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, with the prefecture’s Governor, Yuji Kuroiwa, and Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga, on board. The release said the car “operated fully automatically on the highway.” Journalists reportedly witnessed the initial run, then were given an opportunity to experience the vehicle’s autonomous behavior themselves.
Shiga said, “Nissan seeks a safer, more comfortable and environmentally friendly mobile future. 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 area where the test run took place is immersed in high-tech projects, according to the release:
The milestone event in the development of next-generation mobility was carried out with the cooperation of Kanagawa Prefecture. It took place near the “Sagami Robot Industry Special Zone,” an area that is being revitalized with the help of the local government. Projects include the development of life-assist robots, which are equipped with sensors, artificial intelligence, and control systems. The public road test conducted in the special zone will help Nissan to develop Autonomous Drive towards its goal of being ready with commercially viable vehicles by 2020.
The Nissan LEAF used in the test was the first vehicle with Autonomous Drive capability to be granted a license plate in Japan, the release said. Nissan claims its Autonomous Drive technology is capable of detecting road conditions and automatically operating the car’s main controls, including steering, braking, and acceleration. Nissan Autonomous Drive vehicles can operate in full automatic mode on the expressway, merge into traffic, change lanes, and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, the release said.