Self-driving car tested on Tokyo highway

Automaker plans to launch its driverless vehicle commercially by 2020

Self-driving car tested on Tokyo highway

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Japanese automaker Nissan has tested a self-driving car on Tokyo’s highways, and it aims to fully launch the technology by 2020.

Nissan installed its autonomous vehicle system on to an Infiniti Q50 car, which recently went on a test drive through Tokyo. It travelled 20 kilometres, with the trip ending where it started.

The vehicle was equipped with 12 sonars, 12 cameras, nine radar sensors, and six laser scanners, according to a report by CNN. Unlike conventional GPS systems which have an accuracy of within five metres, the self-driving vehicle’s positioning system is accurate to 30 centimetres, allowing it to navigate tight spaces such as toll gates and even merge on to highway traffic.

During the test drive, a staff member was seated in the traditional driver’s seat, most likely for emergencies. However, his hands and feet weren’t on the steering wheel and pedals, respectively.

“What we have tried to attain with this vehicle is human-like, comfortable driving -- so no jerking, (no) sudden movements,” Tetsuya Iijima, general manager at Nissan’s strategy group, told CNN. “If people don’t (feel comfortable) in the vehicle it will not be accepted.”

Iijima also added that Nissan hopes to roll out its self-driving technology in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

However, several issues remain, such as whether the technology will be affordable to the general public and the important matter of insurance liability.

According to Nissan spokesperson Tomoyuki Akiyama, how much the technology would cost when it hits the market is still unknown.

Iijima added that Nissan has to make sure that its autonomous vehicles are compliant with Japanese motoring regulations. While tests were performed successfully, the technology must be made more reliable, such as having an increased number of sensors, when released in the market. This is likely to drive retail prices higher.

“There are many discussions (in which) the government, and insurance companies, should be involved,” Iijima told CNN. “We need to have some consensus to show or prove this vehicle is safe. Everyone is thinking of a realistic way to show the safety of the vehicle.”

Related stories:
Self-driving buses coming to three Singapore towns
Vehicles with autonomous features may receive motor insurance discount
Japan’s self-driving passenger bus “speeding” towards the future … at 10km/h

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