London Proves To Be Too Congested For Autonomous Nissan LEAF

2 months ago by Steven Loveday 30

Autonomous Nissan LEAF – London

As we recently reported, the autonomous Nissan LEAF underwent its first on-road testing, aside from some preliminary trials in Japan.

The LEAF braved London streets with Tetsuya Iijima, Nissan’s global head of autonomous development, in the driver’s seat. The Guardian had an opportunity to ride along in the passenger seat.

According to the publication, the autonomous Nissan LEAF “mostly” did just fine driving itself on London’s busy city streets:

“The technology works – or it does with an attentive driver behind the wheel to slam on the brakes.”

Nissan LEAF’s autonomous drive demonstration event – London

Though Iijima was in the car “just in case,” and pulled out of the lot “hands and feet free,” that didn’t last long. Either London’s streets are too busy, or Nissan has some more tweaking to do. Obviously, it’s a bit of both, as this is a work in progress. Without the ability to test these vehicles in real-life situations on public roads, they would never be able to be truly ready.

Before the London event, Carlos Ghosn is given a ride in a autonomous LEAF prototype with Iijima.

Remember the fully self-driving Tesla Model X videos, and also those of the autonomous Chevrolet Bolt. These were often shot in “fast-forward,” because not many people want to watch a car drive itself for ten minutes. In the speedy clips, there were times that you could notice false stops, hesitations, and near misses. If you slow those videos down, it is clear that the cars are a bit “unsure” at times, and err on the side of caution – which is a good thing.

The autonomous Nissan LEAF uses twelve cameras, four radars, and four lasers. In many situations, the LEAF fared well. However, there were multiple situations in which Iijima had to quickly grab the wheel, or hit the brakes. He said:

“Trust is very important … Some bugs … It’s a prototype … We still have three years.”

Like some of the other videos we have seen, the LEAF was equipped with a virtual map, views of the cameras, and a system that highlighted objects that were picked up by the car’s lasers and radar. The car even has a voice that tells the driver what it’s doing. Iijima explained that the systems are not really needed for the car to perform its magic, but rather, are there to comfort the driver and to establish greater trust.

Nissan LEAF’s autonomous drive demonstration event – London

The goal is that these vehicles will be able to command all roads by 2020, however, it may take longer for people to trust the vehicles. Nissan plans to showcase the cars as taxis at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. But, there are many unanswered questions related to legislation and insurance. The technology should be ready, and provide a much safer environment than that of human drivers, but regulation will take longer than testing and technology.

Hayato Akizuki, a senior technology officer at Nissan, believes that it will be 2025 before autonomous cars become a regularity. Even by then, it may be more common to see the vehicles as taxis, and not so much in people’s everyday cars. He shared:

“Technology-wise it is possible; it depends on the business case. People may not want a driverless car for themselves – but car-sharing or taxi firms could do.”

Source: The Guardian

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32 responses to "London Proves To Be Too Congested For Autonomous Nissan LEAF"

  1. Brian says:

    Ghosn does not look very confident in their autopilot programming…

    1. Kdawg says:

      That’s normal for him. He just has resting-grumpy-face.

      1. Daniel Watkins says:

        LOL yes.

      2. Foo says:

        Ghosn looks like Sam Donaldson (of ABC News) there.

        And they both look like Sam the Eagle (of the Muppets).

    2. Tilyon says:

      Auto pilot is Silly unless all véhicules have auto pilot,then no need to have a permit

      1. Martin Winlow says:

        It is silly to make sweeping judgments on a technology that is already very evidently very close to having a profound affect on the entire human race.

        I don’t understand why you think *all* vehicles must be autonomous for the tech to work at all as, a long time before that happens, we will all benefit from free (to all intents and purposes) bus travel and much cheaper taxis, possibly to the point where, for town and city-dwellers, the accepted notion that one ‘needs’ to own a car will simply vanish.

        Unfortunately, a huge number of driving jobs will vanish, too.

  2. unlucky says:

    The Guardian video shows the car swerving toward a truck (lorry). But if you watch FullyCharged’s video the car did fine.

    Sounds like it’s not ready for London but it also might not be behind the curve, merely as flawed as other existing systems.

  3. I think we will see how much more difficult full autonomy is. The Nissan system is on of the best – and yet it doesn’t work in the rain.

    Or, apparently in heavy traffic.

    1. JeffD says:

      Well it doesn’t do well in heavy rain, but I don’t think people do all that well in heavy rain either.

      1. R.S says:

        But isn’t the reason of fully autonomous driving, to work when people don’t want to drive?

        “Yes it comes with full autonomy and with full autonomy we mean straight empty roads and sunshine”

        1. Martin Winlow says:

          No, the point of autonomy is simply to make driving (and being a road user that is not the driver of a ‘vehicle’) safer. And, this it will do, very soon, to the tune of preventing a good 90% of accidents.

          Tesla’s Autopilot, for example, is already 40% safer than drivers of Teslas not using Autopilot according to the NHTSA. And this is a system that is far removed from full, ‘Level 5’ autonomous capability.

  4. silversod says:

    You’d have to be brain dead to want to drive a car in the London area, the average speed has dropped to 7.8 mph. traffic moves no faster than chickens.
    Public transport is the only way.

    1. Kdawg says:

      I used Uber on my last London trip. It moved OK, was better than walking in the rain, and was door to door.

    2. SparkEV says:

      For public transport, you have to get there many minutes in advance, make many stops along the way for pickup/dropoff, walk to/from your home/destination. Average speed on public transport in my area works out to about 8 MPH, and that’s assuming public transport encounter no traffic.

      Even the worst traffic move quicker than that, and you don’t have to wait in rain nor put up with some looney tune peeing on himself.

      1. Someone out there says:

        There seems to be a huge problem with incontinence where you live. You always go on about how people wet themselves on public transport where you live. Where I live most people are housebroken and such events are extremely rare.

        1. Just_Chris says:

          oh yeah, other people are always peeing them selves on public transport – that sounds pretty freudian to me. I always find these moments uncomfortable, a bit like if someone asks for your advice on something deeply disturbing so the can help a “friend”.

      2. Martin Winlow says:

        You should go and work for TFL!

  5. Scramjett says:

    I think it will be a very long while before we see these cars being trusted. As an example, cruise control has been around for decades, yet based on driving behavior on the road, I don’t see a lot of people using them. If people don’t trust cruise control, how are they going to trust a car that “does it all?”

    1. Kdawg says:

      It drives me nuts how many people don’t use cruise control. Sometimes driving on long trips I feel like I’m doing a constant do-si-do with some cars.

      1. Scramjett says:

        I know, right?! I often times have to go faster than I prefer to put some distance between them so I can break the “leap frog” cycle!

        1. TomArt says:

          Yep! Same here.

        2. Kdawg says:

          I’ve done that too, but then I have to deal w/what I call “creepers”. It’s when you punch it to get away from the idiots, then reset your cruise control, only to look in your rear-view mirror and see them slowly creeping back to surround you.

          1. Scramjett says:

            Ugh, yeah! Those guys too!

            1. Pete says:

              I suspect most people don’t even bother to read the manual to work out how to turn it on.

              1. Aaron says:

                I use people’s lack of cruise control to my advantage on long trips. I’ll do passing maneuvers to get other cars competing with each other to be first, then fall back so I don’t get a ticket. 🙂

    2. Will says:

      Hi, I’ve been diving a VW Passat with active cruise control for the past 2 years….I use active cruise control a lot on motorways and in 50MPH speed limits etc

      For those who don’t know active cruise control monitors the car in front and excellerates and decelerates (brakes) according to their speed.

      Note..it took a little while to adapt, but I trust the system and improves long journeys

      I dive 35,000 miles and year and have done so for the last 34 years

    3. Martin Winlow says:

      It is bizarre, isn’t it. 35 years ago, I used to put cruise control on every car I bought.

      Autonomy will, of course stop all this stupid tail-gating and ‘do-si-do’ing, the cause of so much frustration (and therefore danger and accidents) on our roads.

      Anyone who does not believe in this sort of technology should try Tesla’s Autopilot – Wow, it is simply fabulous. Sadly, it can’t do anything about the arris-holes but at least it relieves you of much of the subconscious brain processing that we all do when driving but don’t realise is going on until we finish a long drive and wonder why we feel so tired despite having done little but sit down all day long.

  6. Mister G says:

    Soon we will need anti-virus, Spyware, anti hack software for autonomous cars… $9.99 a month to protect your cars from hackers. And each time an update arrives you have to pull over on the side of the road lol

  7. Martin Winlow says:

    What’s odd to me is that we all, quite happily, get into a taxi driven by a complete stranger and don’t give a thought to the possibility that they may have all sorts of dodgy things going on in their minds, but we still don’t trust something as simple and well proven as basic cruise-control.

  8. JP White says:

    “Either London’s streets are too busy, or Nissan has some more tweaking to do.”

    How did you come to the conclusion it’s the congestion that is the root cause of the Nissan autonomous system glitches? Did Nissan say so?

    Or are you saying that an autonomous system that does *not* require any tweaking will unlikely to be able to handle congested streets?

    How about saying that the system still needs some work and just leave it at that.

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