With ride-hailing services like Uber actively exploring taxi services backed by self-driving cars, one of Japan’s biggest car manufacturers is now moving into this space as well. Nissan has announced its plans to launch its very own self-driving taxi service in Japan. Nissan is partnering with DeNa for its Easy Ride self-driving taxi service that’s going to be launched on March 5th in its home country.
Since the service is backed by fully autonomous cars, they will be tested in a limited area initially. Riders in the Minato Mirai district of Yokohama in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture will be able to use a new app to call one of these self-driving taxis.
These cars will be geofenced along a 4.5 kilometer route running between Nissan’s global headquarters and the Yokohama World Porters mall. As we’ve seen in other tests of fully autonomous cars, there will always be a safety driver behind the wheel who will take over should anything go wrong. A remote operations center will monitor all of the trips to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
While they’re in the car, riders can use the in-car tablet to browse selections of almost 500 recommended places of interest and events in the vicinity. They will also be able to download about 40 discount coupons for retailers and restaurants in the area on their own smartphones.
Nissan and DeNa says that after the initial public testing is completed, they plan on expanding this self-driving taxi service to a wider market by 2020.