Ridesharing

Nissan To Test Self-Driving Taxis

Japan

Creating possible competition for ridesharing companies such as Uber, Nissan and DeNA are planning a test run of a self-driving taxi service — dubbed Easy Ride — in Japan, CNBC reported.

Nissan said on Friday (Feb. 23) it will conduct the test on a 4.5 kilometer road in the Minatomirai district of Yokohama in March. To set a destination during the test run, test passengers can request recommended destinations by voice or text through a tablet.

Nissan and DeNA are aiming to make Easy Ride available to the general public sometime in the early 2020s. But before the companies launch the service more widely, they’re seeking to provide support for more languages and routes.

The news comes as Daimler’s Mercedes and Bosch are gearing up to test driverless taxis on the roads in the coming months. Engadget, citing German news site Automobilwoche, reported that Bosch Head Volkmar Denner said the first test taxi will be on the roads in the coming months. He didn’t provide other details but did offer up more of a timetable for the initiative.

Daimler is hoping its focus on making vehicles self-driving from the ground up instead of retrofitting cars to become self-driving taxis will give it an edge. The report noted that if competitors are able to make inroads before the Mercedes effort hits the streets, it may not matter how much more technologically advanced it is.

Mercedes is not in front — at present — but it is driving hard to get there. Two years ago, the world got a peek at its self-driving F 015 concept car. The company has spent much of the time since pushing up time targets for the technology necessary to get self-driving cars on the road sooner. Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates the market for autonomous cars could be worth as much as $83 billion by 2025, which means the clock is ticking.

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