Nissan 'robo-taxi' taking to Japanese roads in March

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"Global automakers are looking beyond making and selling cars to survive an industry which is being quickly transformed by new services, and a growing number including General Motors Co are applying their expertise in automated driving functions for mass-market cars to develop mobility services", Reuters notes.

Nissan and DeNA will recruit participants for a field test of the Easy Ride mobility service in Yokohama, Japan, until 15 January 2018...

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. The test service, named Easy Ride, will last two weeks, the companies said in a joint statement.

It comments that one of the more interesting aspects of Nissan's test is that users will be able to not only specify exactly where they want to go, but also use general written queries like "I want to eat pancakes" and have the vehicle automatically choose a relevant destination.

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Based on the objectives, customers can choose recommended local destinations and sightseeing routes.

The joint venture between Nissan and mobile commerce firm DeNA, branded Easy Ride, has been underway since January 2017, and is described as a robo-vehicle mobility service. They also plan to support multiple languages and use a remote monitoring system to ensure passenger safety.

Nissan said a driver will sit behind the steering wheel during the test, though the vehicles will handle the driving mostly by themselves.

This new service is aimed at introducing a new mobility option to complement the area's current transportation network.

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