TOKYO -- Nissan Motor will test an autonomous ride-hailing service on public roads in Japan in March, aiming to officially start robotaxi rides in the early 2020s, the automaker said in a statement.
The automaker will put two Leaf electric cars, equipped with sensors and cameras and autonomous driving software developed by DeNA, on roads in a designated part of Yokohama, where Nissan is based. Nissan will seek the general public to participate as passengers, through a booking application on smartphones, said Kazumasa Fujita, a manager at Nissan's corporate strategy department.
The trial is the first concrete step in Nissan and DeNA's joint robot taxi project, which was announced in January. The cars will be more advanced than Nissan's current semiautonomous system known as ProPilot, which enables single lane automated driving on highways. DeNA canceled its partnership with Japanese startup ZMP to join Nissan in the project.
Automakers are increasingly exploring new mobility solutions as they seek to challenge companies such as Uber. Volkswagen Group has announced plans to launch a van-based ride-pooling service under its Moia unit, which it aims to launch in Hamburg next year.