Nissan said it will test an autonomous vehicle on public roads in Japan in March, aiming to officially start the "robot taxi" rides in the early 2020s. GM president Dan Ammann said last week that whereas the company now receives around $30,000 over the lifetime of a new vehicle that it sells, that figure could grow to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a self-driving auto used as part of a revenue-generating ride-hailing service. The two companies aim to combine the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision, through technological assets in autonomous driving, vehicle electrification and connected cars, with DeNA's experience in developing and operating driverless mobility services using its expertise in the internet and artificial intelligence.
This initial testing will take place over a 2-week period in the city of Yokohama in March 2018 - whereby riders or pilot participants will be able to use an app developed by DeNA to call for a self-driving Nissan LEAF taxi to pick them up, and then to deliver them to any number of pre-mapped destinations in the city.
Customers of the driverless taxi service, which is being dubbed "Easy Ride", can select either a range of "recommended destinations" or "sightseeing routes" in the Yokohama area, says the Financial Times.
Easy Ride is a robo-vehicle for customers who intend to travel freely to their destination. Nissan and DeNA plan to support multiple languages and to use a remote monitoring system to ensure customer safety.
As per the report, Yutaka Sanada, a Nissan senior vice president, said the firm is aiming to add autonomous-driving functions step-by-step, first allowing more cars to handle single-lane driving by themselves, and subsequently navigate urban roads, including intersections, by 2020.
The new model of the electric vehicle will be launched in the U.S. in all the 50 states, early next year. It has a maximum output of 147hp and a torque of 236 lb-ft.