YOKOHAMA, Japan (November 25, 2013) - Nissan Motor Corporation has carried out the first public road test of Autonomous Drive on a Japanese highway. A Nissan LEAF electric vehicle equipped with the revolutionary technology took to the Sagami Expressway in Kanagawa prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, with the prefecture's Governor, Yuji Kuroiwa, and Nissan Vice Chairman Toshiyuki Shiga, on board. The vehicle operated fully automatically on the highway. Journalists witnessed the tests and later had the opportunity to experience the car on the highway themselves.
"Nissan seeks a safer, more comfortable and environmentally-friendly mobile future," said Shiga, vice chairman of Nissan. "Through these tests on an expressway, we hope to further advance our technological development, with the goal of soon implementing Autonomous Drive vehicles. When starting a new project, serious effort is required to gain an understanding of all the variables involved. We were able to conduct this important testing on the Sagami Expressway thanks to the strong support from Kanagawa Prefecture."
The milestone event in the development of next-generation mobility was carried out with the cooperation of Kanagawa Prefecture. It took place near the "Sagami Robot Industry Special Zone," an area that is being revitalized with the help of the local government. Projects include the development of life-assist robots which are equipped with sensors, artificial intelligence, and control systems. The public road test conducted in the special zone will help Nissan to develop Autonomous Drive towards its goal of being ready with commercially-viable vehicles by 2020.
The Nissan LEAF used on the public road testing was the first vehicle with Autonomous Drive capability to be granted a license plate in Japan last September. Nissan's prototypes are equipped with Autonomous Drive technology that detects road conditions and automatically operates the car's main controls, including steering, braking and acceleration. The vehicles can operate in full automatic mode on the expressway, merge into traffic, change lanes and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles.