Video: Japan’s Prime Minister Gets On Board Autonomous Nissan LEAF for First Public-Road Tests


“Nissan’s revolutionary Autonomous Drive test car has taken to the public roads in Japan for the first time, with the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on board.”

Nissan LEAF Autonomous Test Drive on Public Roads

Nissan LEAF Autonomous Test Drive on Public Roads

That’s right.  An autonomous-drive Nissan LEAF has hit public roads.

Awhile back, Nissan touted autonomous drive as the future.  The automaker believes it’ll be fully ready to employ this tech on its vehicle lineup by 2020, but for now closely monitored on-road trial is where Nissan stands.

Nissan says this of Japan’s Prime Minister riding in the autonomous LEAF:

“The attendance of the Prime Minister underlines the support of Japan’s government for the development of autonomously driven vehicles, which have the potential to become a prime factor in Japan’s economic growth. The historic event was made possible through the support and planning of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. The three participating domestic motor companies worked with the close cooperation with the related ministries and government offices.”

Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga adds:

“With the public road demonstration for the Autonomous Drive held in the presence of the Prime Minister, I believe that a great step has been taken towards the realization of Autonomous Drive. Nissan will pursue a safer, more comfortable and environmentally-friendly mobility by further fortifying our cooperative relations with the many government agencies and people involved.”

The Nissan LEAF is the “base vehicle” to test out all this high-tech gadgetry.   Nissan’s autonomous system relies on “cameras, laser scanners and radar, which identify nearby pedestrians, traffic lights, traffic signs and other objects.”

Nissan says that it’s currently working on an “Autonomous Drive proving ground at a Nissan facility in Japan to test the vehicles in extreme situations to ensure the technology is safe.”

It seems that not only is Nissan the world leader in EVs, but the automaker is now aiming to lead the autonomous way, too.

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3 Comments on "Video: Japan’s Prime Minister Gets On Board Autonomous Nissan LEAF for First Public-Road Tests"

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I think autonomous driving will be more popular in Japan than in the US. (and no, not because of stereotype(s)). I think US drivers will not want to give up the control….. as much. It will depend on the situation of course. But hypothetically, if autonomous cars were ubiquitous, and data was collected, I would bet a much higher percentage of US drivers still drove manually, more of the time, than Japanese drivers.

Most Americans seemed fine relinquishing control over their vehicle’s transmission, at least more so than, say, Europeans (the fuel efficiency penalty plaguing older automatics may have been a motivation too, though).

I think that legal considerations, e.g. to what extent the occupant and/or owner is responsible for the car’s actions, will play at least as big a role as mentalities.
I wouldn’t see much benefit having a self-driving car that I must baby-sit 100% of the time.

I think legal issues will be handled through deals with the insurance companies.

If manufacturers present enough good data, e.g. that autonomous cars have 10x fewer at-fault accidents per million miles than drivers considered safe a priori, they’ll be able to convince the insurance companies to offer unlimited coverage in exchange for a bigger profit margin, all the while still passing significant savings to consumers.